March 27, 2017

District News


A-Tech Public Safety Academy Juniors Meet with TAG Team

The junior class of the Public Safety Academy had the opportunity to meet with (TAG) – Trumbull Ashtabula Group drug task force detectives.  Detectives spoke about the process of undercover drug investigations, and the preferred evidence to file charges and serve search warrants.  Students were also shown undercover drug buy videos in Ashtabula County and advised of Prosecutor expectations for drug trafficking charges.  Students handled many forms of packaged confiscated drugs and learned of local trending drugs entering Ashtabula County.



A-Tech Precision Machining Class Visits Henry Ford Museum 

From left to right: Ron Maurer, Curtis Beukeman, Ayden Arendas, Damian Schoville, Justin Osborne, Joe Chiacchiero

The Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) senior Precision Machine class traveled to Dearborn, Michigan to the Henry Ford Museum to catch a bus to the Ford Rouge factory Tour. While there they were able to observe a movie on the history of Henry Ford as well as an animated video on the manufacturing and testing of the Ford F150 trucks followed by a tour of the assembly plant of the F150.

 “It was an amazing experience to visit such an important part of American and Industrial history. Seeing how Ford went from a garage in a small neighborhood to an amazing complex of innovation, meanwhile changing the lives of the average American , even the world, in the process was truly fascinating-Ayden Arendas, Precision Machining Senior, 2017




A-Tech Adult LPN Program Ranked in Top Five Schools in Ohio

LPN students (left) Kayla Gumbar and Katherine Wagner go over dissection with instructor Jaime Andes.

According to, Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus’ Knoedler School of Practical Nurse Education is ranked fifth in Ohio for state approved programs based on first time NCLEX-PN passer rates. As of November 2016, seventy Practical Nursing programs existed in Ohio. Sixty schools were included in this comparison.

The ranking process analyzed up to 5 years of pass rates. The pass rates were averaged and weighted by the recency of the exam. The 2015 pass rate was given the highest weighting (0.37). This is the 3rd annual state LPN rankings completed by

The LPN program is currently scheduling pre-entrance exams call 440-576-5545 to schedule yours today.



A-Tech /GHS Grads Receive James Longar, Sr. Memorial Scholarship

A-Tech grads Rachel Carcell and Chaz LaRiche both of Geneva are the 2016 recipients of the James Longar, Sr. Memorial Scholarship. The award was presented by James’ wife Eva Longar, daughters Kayla Hejduk and KristinCastrilla and grandsons Bradley Hejduk and Kaden Longar. The scholarship honors the memory of James Longar, Sr. who passed away in 2011 as a result of complications of cancer.  Longar was a dedicated Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troup 534 which has produced more than twenty Eagle Scouts since 1998.

“We call the award the ‘Average Jim Scholarship’ Longar’s widow Eva said. Jim always said he was just an ‘Average Jim’.  He wasn’t wealthy and he didn’t have a lofty title, but what he did have was a big heart.” Jim Longar was a city kid who, at thirteen, moved with his mom to Madison after the death of his father, Eva explained. A kind older couple noticed Jim, took him under their wing and helped to give him direction. “Jim was so grateful that caring people supported him at a difficult time in his life and he dedicated himself to helping others through scouting and everywhere he went. He always said that if he won the lottery, he would create a scholarship fund to help students with potential follow their dreams. When we lost Jim, I was determined to make his dream come true by helping Geneva kids through this scholarship in Jim’s name. We look for kids with good hearts who need a helping hand to move forward. It’s a small thing, but everyone needs to feel they are special. That’s why we do this. ”

Carcell earned her Career Passport at A-Tech in the Carpentry Program. She is a Plymouth Township volunteer firefighter trainee and is studying to be an Emergency Medical Technician at University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center. LaRiche, a graduate of A-Tech’s Public Safety Academy is serving our country in the Army. 



A-Tech’s Chapter of Drug Fee Clubs of America Helps Students Gain a Competitive Advantage

Students who graduate from Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) poised to enter the workforce are already ahead of the curve in terms of acquired tools for their trades, job specific skills and real world preparation, and their participation in a campus wide organization that verifies their drug free lifestyles adds another important component to their comprehensive Career Passports.   

A-Tech’s chapter of Drug Free Clubs of America, the only one in Ashtabula County, is thriving. Two hundred thirty three A-Tech students enrolled in each of the school’s career technical programs lined up to join the organization last week. Card carrying members of the club will be able to provide prospective employers with proof that they are drug free with their job applications, opening the doors of opportunity to immediate employment. When they choose to join the club, students, with their parents’ permission, volunteer for a screening test to indicate that they are substance free.  Test results are completely private and confidential and are not shared with the school. The organization provides random follow up screenings at several times during the school year. A $14,000 grant from the Robert S. Morrison Foundation has made it possible for A-Tech to offer membership in the club to students at no charge this year.

Students whose tests show they are free of drugs, receive a photo ID recognizing them as members of the club. Drug Free America Club members are eligible for awards at A-Tech.

“This is an important opportunity that we have at A-Tech,” Health Care Academy junior Paige Houser said. “When we apply for a job and it’s already on our application that we are drug free it gives us an advantage over other applicants that an employer would need to test.”

Drug Free Clubs of America was founded by three Cincinnati firefighters who decided to take a stand against teen drug use. Since its inception in 2005, dozens of schools throughout Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia have established chapters in a proactive effort to promote healthy lifestyles.

Ashtabula Foundation Initiative Allows A-Tech Students to Make a Difference in Local Lives through Youth Philanthropy Board  

A-Tech Philanthropy Board Students and staff pose with the grant recipients for the 2016 school year.

The first day of spring brings thoughts of baseball to the minds of winter weary kids and thanks to a unique partnership between A-Tech students and the Ashtabula Foundation, young Pymatuning area ball players will run the bases on a level playing field.  

At a grant presentation ceremony on Tuesday morning, A-Tech’s Youth Philanthropy Board disbursed $5,000 in grants to six Ashtabula County nonprofit organizations, redirecting seed money provided by the Ashtabula Foundation. The Foundation provides funding to youth groups in each high school in Ashtabula County affording students the opportunity to become acquainted with the process of identifying the needs of charitable organizations and allocating funding to help them assist county residents.   

Roy Dotterweich of the Pymatuning Area Youth Organization (PAYO) accepted a check in the amount of $1,000 from the A-Tech Youth Philanthropy Board at the grant presentation ceremony. “We are so thankful for the generosity of the A-Tech Philanthropy group and the Ashtabula Foundation,” Dotterweich said. “We will now be able to purchase a tractor to keep the ball fields at PAYO in shape for the seasons. This program is so great! It will help so many kids and community members. In the Little League alone there are at least 280 kids who will benefit.”

The A-Tech Youth Philanthropy Board also issued grants to Faith in Action to help reimburse volunteers for miles they travel as they transport seniors to appointments, Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County to bolster their HALO project, Ashtabula Maritime & Surface Transportation Museum for restoration of a pilothouse door, Community Counseling Center to supplement the STEPS program and The City Church to help provide seating for their youth building.  

Serving a second term on the A-Tech Youth Philanthropy Board this year are Health Care Academy seniors Justin Tuttle (Conneaut High School) and Ashley Stowers (Lakeside), Rachel Carcell ( Carpentry – Geneva High School), Zoe Shreve (Horticulture/Landscaping – Lakeside  High School) Skylar Penrose (Graphic Communications – Jefferson High School). First year members are juniors Austin Reece (Heath Care Academy -Geneva High School), Crystal Byler (Health Care Academy – Grand Valley High School), Jordan Palmer (Small Animal Care – Geneva High School), Nathan Zahler (Health Care Academy – Conneaut High School), and Vivian Cochran (Cosmetology – Conneaut High School).  Advisors for the group are A-Tech Student Liaison Gilda McQuoid and Instructional Coordinator Brian Kimmel.



  Senior Masonry Student Not Only Preparing for State Competition But Also His Future

Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) Masonry senior Robert Cottom is not only looking forward to the State SkillsUSA Masonry competition to be held in Columbus at the end of April but also to starting his career in the construction industry as a mason. In the two years Robert has been in the program he has developed many of skills necessary to be a successful mason, such as reading blueprints, calculating materials, laying out patterns, forms, or foundations. According to Robert “A-Tech has put me on a path to a great career in the construction industry.”

New housing starts and commercial projects continue to rise and current Bureau Labor of Statistics (BLS) indicate that the need for masons will grow by at least 15% over the next ten years, which is much faster than most occupations listed in Bureau of Labor Statistics Outlook. Average wage for masons is between $14.50 and $16.85 per hour.

The Masonry program at the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus is still accepting applications. For more information on to visit or enroll in the program contact Ms. Amanda Schumann, Career Pathways Coordinator at 440-576-6015, extension 1115.





Ashtabula Foundation Initiative Allows A-Tech Students to Make a Difference in Local Lives through Youth Philanthropy Board

By Jan Perala  

A-Tech’s 2015 Youth Philanthropy Board members are (Seated from left):  Zoe Shreve, Skylar Penrose, Brianna Cesa, Mia Coladangelo and Brooklynn Gibson.

Standing: Justin Tuttle, Ashley Stowers, Rachel Carcell, Jenna Harryman and James Sporcich.

 Last year, thanks to an initiative by the Ashtabula Foundation, a group of A-Tech students became involved in an ambitious grass-roots goodwill program that provided assistance to five county nonprofit organizations. And although Tech students have a long history of reaching out to help others through their annual Holiday Food Drives for A-Tech families in need, through on-campus Red Cross Bloodmobiles, and through an array of community service projects, members of A-Tech’s Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB) say the experience was incomparable.

A-Tech’s Youth Philanthropy Board took shape last year with the receipt of seed money in the form of a $5,000 grant from the Ashtabula Foundation.  The nine member Youth Board reviewed applications from area non-profit organizations, ultimately redirecting the funds to five organizations with pressing needs and are in the process of extending their efforts this year.

“It is truly an honor to be a member of A-Tech’s Youth Philanthropy Board for the second year,” Health Care Academy senior Brianna Cesa said. “The experience last year was amazing. Seeing how happy and thankful the people receiving the funds were is a prize in itself. This experience is rewarding in so many ways and I’m very proud to be a part of the YPB program again.”

With continued support from the Ashtabula Foundation, the A-Tech YPB will again have the opportunity to disperse $5,000 to worthy 501 C3 classified non-profit community groups.   A-Tech’s Youth Philanthropy Board will accept fund requests until March 2nd.  YPB members will review all applications and arrange for interviews with applicants prior to the final selection process and disbursement of funds.

Co-Advisors for the group, A-Tech Instructional Coordinators  Gilda McQuoid and Brian Kimmel, explained that the partnership with The Ashtabula Foundation provides an opportunity for students to focus on ways to give back to the community through service learning, to expand leadership skills and to use their individual talents and energy to help the communities in which they live and work.

Serving a second term on the A-Tech Youth Philanthropy Board are Health Care Academy seniors Mia Coladangelo and Brianna Cesa from Jefferson High School,  James Sporcich (Computer Networking) from Lakeside High School, Jenna Harryman (Public Safety) of Edgewood High School and Brooklynn Gibson (Graphic Communications) of Conneaut High School. First year members are juniors Rachel Carcell (Carpentry) of Geneva High School, Skylar Penrose (Graphic Communications) of Jefferson High School, Justin Tuttle (Health Care Academy) of Conneaut High School, Zoe Shreve (Horticulture) and Ashley Stowers (Health Care Academy) both of Lakeside High School.

For additional information about the funding request process or to request an application, please contact  Gilda McQuoid by email at or by calling 440-576-6016 ext. 1076.




A-Tech IMPAC Program Poised to Close Skills Gap for Area Manufacturers

By Jan Perala for A-Tech 

Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus and twelve area manufacturers will showcase an innovative new industrial training program housed in a gleaming, state-of-the-art equipment filled laboratory on the A-Tech campus at an open house this month.

 The Industrial Maintenance Pathway for Ashtabula County (IMPAC) is a customized training program developed in a collaborative effort between area manufacturers and A-Tech designed to provide workers with critical industry specific skill sets.  According to A-Tech’s Workforce Development Supervisor Ken Porter, employers participating in the IMPAC program partnership identified an array of crucial skills workers in their various manufacturing environments must attain and the IMPAC training program was carefully tailored to ensure that existing and prospective employees acquire those skills through enrollment in program. Industry experts from area manufacturers serve as IMPAC instructors,  providing specialized training in an A-Tech based facility equipped with state-of-the-art amenities provided by the program.

“The IMPAC program is very positive for Ashtabula County,” Grand River Rubber and Plastics Vice President of Operations Jason Brand said. “We have two maintenance technicians enrolled in the program and we are very pleased with their progress. I served on  the planning committee for the program and am glad to see that it is already providing  employees with essential job skills.”

Partnering with A-Tech in the new endeavor are Cristal, Mohawk Fine Papers, Presrite Corporation, Molded Fiber Glass Companies, Iten Industries,  TDMWEK, Grand River Rubber and Plastics, The Composites Group, Chromaflo Technologies, ASHTA Chemicals, Worthington Industries, General Aluminum Manufacturing and  Kennametal, Inc. The program is also supported by  Infinity Resources, Inc. and Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County. “This is an example of the education sector responding to the expressed needs of local employers and forming a working partnership to create a structured and customized training program to fill immediate and future workforce needs,” A-Tech Superintendent Dr. Jerome Brockway said.

IMPAC instructors and industry partners will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the multifaceted training program at an open house scheduled for February 17th from 4:30 until 6 p.m. in Meister Hall (C Complex) on the A-Tech Campus. All interested individuals or businesses are invited to attend. For information about IMPAC please contact IMPAC Industrial Training Coordinator Ken Porter at 576-6015 ext. 1011.


Local Companies Donate to Fund A-Tech Robot Team

Precision Machining seniors (left to right)Hunter Massena, Derek Elmore (with last years robot), Zack Lehman, Shawn Coy and Tim Prax display some of the parts that will be used to assemble this years robot Hannibal.

Seniors in the Precision Machining and CNET programs at Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus (A-Tech) will be battling it out on Saturday, April 25th at Lakeland Community College in the 2015 Robobots Regional Competition. The A Team then plans to take their robot, Hannibal, to Baldwin Community College for national competitions on May 16th.

The team is being supported in several ways by local industry. The following companies have donated materials or given financially to support the team: Spring Team Inc., Short Run Machine, Reese Machine, Dalin Mold and Machine, Wecall Inc., Penco Tool, Fargo Machine, Austinburg Machine, Fenton Manufacturing, and NOF Metal Coatings.

According to Precision Machining Instructor, Ron Maurer, “We are also being supported by Scott Ray from Short Run as our Technical Advisor, designing our robot with the students’ concepts. Also, every Wednesday students have the opportunity to stay after school and work on the robot components that they are building.” During this time, students have had the privilege of being coached or working with Scott Ray from Short Run, Paul Doherty from Wecall Inc., and Brian Lewis from Penco.

A-Tech Environmental Science Students Experience Submarine Challenge 

Winners of the “Submarine Challenge” were welding juniors (left to right) Morgan Conrad and Aaron Good.

Throughout the week of October 20th Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus (A-Tech) students in Miss Davis’ Environmental Science classes worked to construct a submarine made of every day materials while applying the concepts and properties of water and density. The submarine had to float, sink, and completely resurface in an aquarium without the students pushing or pulling on it. According to A-Tech Administrator Mr. Jon Whipple, who served as a judge for the challenge, “I was impressed with the depth of their enthusiasm for the project and their ability to work under pressure.”

The project was designed to meet the state standards for environmental science pertaining to water which includes its unique chemical properties, the water cycle, and its importance to all living things. According to Miss Davis, “Students learned about the behavior of fluids, including pressure and density, and the scientific experiments that contributed to our understanding of fluids performed by well know physicists including Archimedes, Bernoulli, Pascal, and Boyle.”

New Small Animal Care Program Up and Running

The Ashtabula County Career & Technical Campus (A-Tech) welcomes students to the NEW Small Animal Care (SAC) Program. A-Tech SAC students (left to right) Shaylynn Glaettli, Dannie Duranine, Lyndsey Neal and Kaylee Severino gather to hold Toothpick the Hedgehog. Toothpick will be one of many animals for students to care for this school year.

A-Tech Anatomy Classes Ready to Learn

A-Tech Science Teacher Mrs. Heeren works with Takoeda Delong (left) and Leah Derricoate (right) on their anatomy project.

Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus (A-Tech) students in Mrs. Tanya Heeren’s Anatomy class started off their year with a great group project. Students worked with a partner to trace the front and back of their body on a full length piece of butcher paper. After labeling the anterior and posterior side, they drew in the body cavities. Then, they identified over 40 anatomical regions. According to Mrs. Heeren, “This project demonstrates my philosophy of active learning, team work, and application. The terminology that they learn in this first chapter lays the foundation for the rest of the year in anatomy and physiology. It is essential that any learner becomes an active participant. (Did I mention that I love my job?)”

Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus Medical Office Specialist student competes at BPA Nationals

 Mercedes Soukup, a junior in the Medical Office Specialist Career Technical program at the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (Atech) in Jefferson recently competed at the Business Professional s of America (BPA) Leadership Conference. The conference was held April 30 through May 4, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mercedes qualified for Nationals by finishing in top 5 in the Integrated Office Applications at the state conference held March 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

At the state competition she was required to develop different office documents, such as Word, Excel, and Access using Microsoft Office Applications, and then integrate these documents to create the finished product.  Mercedes said she worked hard in her program to develop the skills that would help be successful at the state competition. She felt bad that no one else qualified for Nationals but was very proud of them for their efforts in the state competition.

Mercedes said “Going to Nationals is probably the most amazing thing I have ever accomplished. It was amazing to be able to have that experience knowing my family, friends, teacher and the school was supporting me throughout this competition.”  The Business Professionals of America was an experience no one could ever forget. It was so much fun and is an amazing opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.


Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus’ Chapter of National Honor Society
Inducts New Members

Parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and school administrators paid tribute to A-Tech’s most accomplished students at a recent National Honor Society induction ceremony where
seven students were formally installed as members of the organization. National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation’s most venerable recognition society for secondary school students, and those selected for membership personify the four tenets of the organization: character, scholarship, leadership and service.

National Honor Society President Emily Lloyd, a senior in the Health Care Academy program, opened the ceremony by introducing Dr. Jerome Brockway, A-Tech Superintendent, who offered congratulations to the new inductees.  “The recognition you are receiving as you are inducted into National Honor Society is not as important as what you have accomplished to bring you here today”, Dr Brockway said. “Maintain your positive attitude, backed by purpose. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Life is a promise, fulfill it.”?

Dr. Brockway introduced keynote speaker Sarah Fowler. Fowler, a home school graduate and entrepreneur who owned her own business, has taught hands-on skills to classes of children and adults in the United States and Mexico. Fowler, twenty one, represents District 7 on the State Board of Education, an area encompassing portions of Lake and Summit Counties and all of Trumbull, Geauga, Portage and Ashtabula Counties. “I am very impressed with Sarah’s initiative, dedication and desire to serve our large district,” Dr. Brockway said.

In her remarks, Fowler urged NHS members to follow the four pillars of the NHS creed. “Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone. Do not be afraid to act. Small everyday acts count toward a larger vision,” she said.

A-Tech Principal Paul Brockett introduced second year National Honor Society members
Emily Lloyd, Marissa Nunley, Lisa Kalas, Haley Weisgarber and Kylie Mackey, who offered  comments about each of the four pillars of NHS as they conducted the formal induction process.  As the inductees participated in the traditional candle lighting ceremony, A-Tech Instructional Coordinator Brian Kimmel and NHS Advisor Karen Uspenski introduced them as full-fledged members of the organization while Instructional Coordinator Gilda McQuoid assisted with the official registry signing. Following the ceremony, the newly minted NHS members and their families mingled at a congratulatory reception catered by A-Tech culinary arts students.

New A-Tech National Honor Society members are:
Renee Molzon – Culinary Arts – Ledgemont High School
Brianna Cesa – Health Care Academy -Jefferson High School
Morghan Kelly – Cosmetology – Lakeside High School
Kelsey Klotzbach – Health Care Academy -Jefferson High School
Allison Pildner – Health Care Academy -Lakeside High School
Moria Blood – Landscaping Design I – Conneaut High School
Brandi Weaver – Health Care Academy I – Ledgemont High School

Second Year A-Tech NHS Members
A-Tech Chapter President Emily Lloyd – Health Care Academy – Grand Valley High School
Vice President Marissa Nunley – Early Childhood Education – Jefferson High School
Secretary Lisa Kalas – Power Equipment Technology – Jefferson High School
Treasurer Haley Weisgarber – Graphic Communications – Howland High School
Project Coordinator Kylie Mackey – Culinary Arts – Conneaut High School

A-Tech State Champions Advance to Competition at SkillsUSA National Championships in Kansas City

Four Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) students are state champions in their areas of study, earning gold at the state level this year and qualifying their team to advance to national competition. Garrett Sintic (Geneva High School), Melinda Lastyak (Jefferson High School), Matt Akos (Ledgemont High School) and Carly Tackett (Jefferson High School), 2014 graduates of A-Tech’s Graphic Communications program, will compete in the Promotional Bulletin Board category at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City from June 23-27th.

The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference represents the culminating event for nearly 6,000 talented career and technical education students who have earned the right to compete at the national level, winning contests in their respective states by demonstrating superior technical skills and knowledge as well as the determination to emerge as the best in their respective fields of study.

The Graphic Communications team of Sintic, Lastyak, Tackett and Akos turned the judges’ heads at the state level with a creatively constructed and visually stunning board display. The team will showcase and explain their project at nationals in the Promotional Bulletin Board category and will be accompanied by A-Tech instructor Suzanne Pratt.  “We are very excited to have this opportunity,” Lastyak said. “This project was a challenge but we all learned so much from working together to complete it. I learned what teamwork really means. I would encourage other students to get involved with SkillsUSA.”

SkillsUSA is a nationwide partnership comprised of students, teachers and representatives from business and industry engaged in a collaborative effort to ensure the viability of a skilled workforce in the United States.  The organization boasts more than 300,000 members in 13,000 school based chapters in every U.S. state who share the mission “to help each student excel”.

A-Tech Elementary Career Education Department Unlocks Future Job Possibilities for Students

Article by Jan Perala

The Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) educational experience unlocks career opportunities for high school students by immersing them in intensive training in on-campus laboratory style classrooms, by bringing industry experts and professionals to campus to share knowledge and skills and by providing an extensive array of off-campus internship experiences. But, before students ever set foot on the sprawling career education focused campus, most have learned about career possibilities at an earlier age through the efforts of A-Tech’s Career Outreach Departments.

 A-Tech Career Education Coordinators Denise Miller and Anne Starcher organize a wide array of field trips and educational experiences that take career education to new levels giving elementary, middle and early high school students a glimpse at career possibilities.

 This fall, Grand Valley fifth graders got a behind the scenes perspective of the multitude of employment opportunities within a local hospital setting when they spent a day at Ashtabula County Medical Center. Students visited the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Respiratory services, the Maintenance Department, Information Technology and Surgery areas.

Ashtabula Intermediate, North Kingsville Elementary and Pymatuning Valley fifth graders spent a day at Kent State Ashtabula Campus engaged in interactive career education activities and speaking with professors in the fields of  healthcare, agriculture, computer information systems and teaching. Students also spent a time segment with Academic Advisors Irene Skleres and Liz Driscoll who provided exercises designed to help students ascertain careers they might pursue and the skill sets required. “We wanted to share resources and some insight to help students research careers that they see people engaged in every day,” Skleres said. “It’s always wonderful to see students of all ages find that niche or set a future career goal using information we have shared. It’s so important that each and every one of us share our experiences and knowledge and encourage students to ask questions about our jobs so they have ample time to plan the pathways to their futures and career success.”

Also this fall, Third graders from Ashtabula Area City Schools, Geneva Area City Schools, Buckeye Local Schools and Conneaut City Schools visited SPIRE Institute for a behind the scenes perspective of the various careers and  professionals whose expertise is needed to operate the multimillion dollar sports and education facility in Harpersfield Township. Students spoke with and participated in sports clinics led by coaching luminaries such as SPIRE Institudes Director Volleyball John Hawks. Hawks was formerly the head coach of the gold medal winning U.S. Men’s Junior National Team and also coached at the college level. Students also toured Fuel – SPIRE’s food services area, the fitness centers and spoke with the facilities Events Management team.

Deciding what career path to follow can be a mind boggling process for students, but seeking information by talking directly with career professionals about their work experience can help bring the possibilities into sharper focus. At recent Lunch with a Professional events at Jefferson High School, Grand Valley High School and Grand Valley Middle School students had the opportunity to talk one on one with representatives from an array of area businesses and industry. At the career expo at Grand Valley Middle School, business professionals from Kennametal, Welded Tubes, Andover Bank, the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department and University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center were on hand answer students’ questions about career possibilities in their specific areas of interest.  “This exposure to various careers during middle school definitely  benefits students by allowing them to get questions answered and direct them to careers that will not onlymeet future needs but that they will love,” Grand Valley Middle School Guidance Counselor Lisa McClain said.

“Exposing young children to career possibilities makes their learning purposeful,” Miller said. “It allows them to make connections between what they are learning in school and what people are doing in the real world. The professors at Kent State Ashtabula and the career professionals at  Ashtabula County Medical Center and SPIRE Institute as well as those who attended the Lunch with a Professional career expos all did a wonderful job providing a wealth of information and hands-on activities that gave students a glimpse into the possibilities that their futures may hold.”

A-Tech Opens Doors for Sophomore Visits

Article by Jan Perala

Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) offers twenty six innovative programs designed to unlock career opportunities for graduates and prepare them for advanced technical training and college level coursework.  Graduates have used the skills and knowledge acquired through their coursework at A-Tech to earn technical and college degrees in a wide array of fields. They are computer information specialists, elementary school teachers, licensed practical nurses, electricians, masons, graphic designers, hairdressers, videographers, dental hygienists, chefs, computer programmers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, entrepreneurs and business owners.

“A-Tech offers so many outstanding programs and has helped so many students follow their dreams,” said the school’s Career Pathways Specialist Amanda Schumann. “ I do a presentation for sophomores at each high school in the county  using an amazing video created by Grand Valley High School’s Tech Prep Multi Media students which provides a behind the scenes perspective in each lab. But students can’t really understand the full impact of the wealth of opportunity offered here unless they visit. When they experience the campus’ environment, meet the instructors and participate in hands-on activities in the labs, even if they are unsure what their future holds, they may see something that piques their interest.  Very often, visiting is a real eye opener for students. “

Geneva High School sophomore Leo Rivera, who toured three A-Tech Career Technical labs with a group of his classmates in December, said the visit connected him to his future.  “I want to be an electrician like my grandfather and seeing the equipment in the lab and hearing about the program made me even more sure this is the way I want to go,” Rivera said. “It was amazing. They have the walls of an entire house in the lab for students to learn how to wire.”

Sophomores at area high schools may schedule a trip to the A-Tech campus during planned visitation days on January 23rd, February 20th and on March 25th. Students who have already visited the campus, but would like to explore additional programs are welcome to join the tours. Interested students should make appointments through their school guidance counselors and may also contact A-Tech Career Pathways Specialist Amanda Schumann at 440-576-6015, ext. 1115 for more information. The school’s website is

Masonry Student Takes Second in Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Skills Competition

Article by Jan Perala

     Dan Gillespie, a Jefferson High School junior enrolled in the Masonry program at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus, placed second in his division at the fifth annual High School Skills Competition sponsored by the Ohio Kentucky Administrative District Council of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers on December 16th. Gillespie and A-Tech classmates Richard Burr, a junior, and seniors Mike Hussing and Brandon Littlefield squared off against Masonry students from eight other high schools and career centers at the competition. The event was hosted by the Northern Ohio Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Regional Training Center in Hudson.

 At the competition, members of the next generation of bricklayers were provided with plans, specifications and materials and were required to complete a brick pillar in an allotted time period. Judges rated each contestant using an established rubric which included accurate blueprint interpretation, project execution and demonstrated skill in creating a finished structure. “The competition was very well organized and was a fantastic experience for the students,” A-Tech Masonry instructor Kevin Orvos said.

According to Orvos, Gillespie’s skill at turning a pile of bricks and a trough of mortar into a perfectly level structure, neatly squared off to specification earned him the judges’ nod for second place.  “I was hoping to place, but it is pretty competitive. You need to be able to think quickly and follow the prints exactly,” Gillespie said. “The judges expect perfect work, but so does (A-Tech instructor) Mr. Orvos so I was ready for this.” Dan is the son of Dan Gillespie and Catherine Chah.

 A-Tech masonry students build foundations for future careers by honing their skills in an on-campus laboratory, where they have constructed a full above the ground basement, and often take their skills on the road providing their expertise to communities and organizations. Recently, A-Tech masonry students constructed a brick veneer for the new Jefferson Police Station and built the foundation for a historic structure at the Blakeslee Log Cabin Site.

A-Tech Graphic Communication Students Elected as SkillsUSA Regional Officers

Article by Jan Perala

Three students enrolled in the Graphic Communications program at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus were recently elected to lead their peers as regional officers in the SkillsUSA organization. Kasey Rollman was elected Vice President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter. Her home school is Jefferson High School. Jackie Gale (Pymatuning Valley High School) will serve as Regional Treasurer and Noah Morgan (Edgewood High School) was elected Historian.

The three A-Tech students were selected from a field of nearly 4,500 members of the organization from eighteen schools in the Northeastern Ohio region.

The three newly minted officers all said they are eagerly anticipating the opportunities that their new positions afford. As regional officers, they will travel to Washington D.C. in January for leadership training and will represent A-Tech at the Regional SkillsUSA Conference in March as well as the State Conference in April. “I am very excited about this opportunity and feel it will help me improve leadership skills needed in my career,” Rollman said. “This will open doors of opportunity for me and I am looking forward to the travel and meeting new people,” Gale said. “This opportunity will give me the leadership skills and motivation to not only better myself, but those I will be working with,” Morgan said.

SkillsUSA is a nationwide partnership comprised of students, teachers and representatives from business and industry joined in a collaborative effort to ensure the viability of a skilled workforce in the United States.  The organization boasts more than 300,000 members in 13,000 school based chapters located in each U.S. state. According to the organization’s website, SkillsUSA provides applied training in career technical areas with a focus on leadership, teamwork, and character development. The organization promotes understanding of the free enterprise system placing an emphasis on community service.

SkillsUSA sponsors leadership and career based competitions affording students the opportunity to showcase their skills at the local, regional, state and national levels. In recent years, A-Tech Graphic Communications students Andrea Wright, Aleigha Warton and Jennifer Slezak qualified for the  SkillsUSA  National Championships in Kansas City, as did A-Tech/Grand Valley High School Multi Media students Kevin Cedar and Cody Byler.  Nichole Dubecky, Leilany Pagan, Tiffany Bevins, Trinity Lopez, Kristen Hommes, Teila Gagat, Celest Shalan, Kristy Anderson and Elise Musaccio were national qualifiers on the Opening and Closing team.