Saturday, July 20th, 2024

C Children First by Becky Adams
It’s Signing Day!


This is the time of the year when high schools and colleges are celebrating students who are graduating and moving on to the next phase of their lives. Many of those seniors are still trying to figure out which profession interests them. One group has worked toward a solution to this issue for years. They are the students who not only take their regular classes at their home high school but also attend daily specialty classes at the Chesapeake Career Center.

The Chesapeake Career Center has a mission
"to prepare students for successful entry into the modern workforce."

Located on Cedar Road, across the street from Tidewater Community College, the Chesapeake Career Center has a mission "to prepare students for successful entry into the modern workforce."

The center provides one-year programs for seniors in Electricity, Emergency Medical Technicians, Emergency Medical Telecommunications, Firefighting, Nail Technology, Nurse Aide, Pharmacy Technology, and HVAC and Refrigeration. There are two-year programs for juniors and seniors in the fields of Automotive Technology, Cosmetology, Cybersecurity, Dental Assistant, Early Childhood Education, Mechatronics, Practical Nursing, Welding, and Auto Body Collision and Refinishing.

Over 500 students go through these programs each year. They come from all seven high schools and must go through an application process for entry into these rigorous programs. Their curricula and internships prepare the students to take their state boards. The school division pays for the industry credentials and licenses, saving the students and their parents thousands of dollars.  

Joy Speelman, a Workforce Development Coordinator at the Chesapeake Career Center, works closely with the students and recruits and develops the number of community businesses that have signed up for the program. These 45 businesses want the Career Center to serve as a pipeline for their companies. The students learn those soft skills like punctuality, proper dress, communication skills, positive attitude, and willingness to learn through their courses at the Career Center. The businesses then benefit from having trained students with industry credentials and licenses who can begin working immediately after high school graduation. It is a special benefit that the students have already chosen and experienced the field in which they are interested.

The Principal of the Career Center, Dr. Kelly Kitchens, indicates that each field has an advisory panel with business representatives to validate the curriculum used and recommend any needed changes. This allows students to receive the most up-to-date information in their field of study. Last year they had 84 students participate in a special "Signing Day" where they signed a "letter of intent" with a specific business that offered them a job. This year, "Signing Day" will take place on June 1, 2023, a couple of weeks before high school graduation.

Best wishes to all of those students who are not only moving into the world of work but also into a career they have chosen after having hands-on experience. Congratulations to each of you and to your parents and teachers!