“It’s not a job, it’s a career.”
That was the theme of the inaugural Career and Technical Education Signing Day hosted by Culpeper County Public Schools Tuesday. More than 30 students entering the workforce or joining the military signed letters of intent for their specific business or branch at the Culpeper County Administration building. Witnessed by a room filled to capacity by family, friends and teachers, the CTE signing day celebrated students who are leading the charge in the revitalized effort to help increase the emphasis on career and technical education.
Inspired by Henrico County Public Schools, who hosted a CTE signing day last year that went viral, Director of CCPS CTE Randi Richards-Lutz said the school system wanted to find a way to celebrate students going into the workforce while also touting the businesses who hire them.
“Our CTE signing day will give students the opportunity to profess their intentions for their future,” Richards-Lutz said. “This represents an investment that all parties are making in the development of the students’ future.”
Richards-Lutz praised the work of Marty Bywaters-Baldwin, director of Workforce Services at Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, Inc., for his willingness to work with the students and businesses to find the perfect fit.
“Marty has spent countless hours working directly with our kids on resumes and cover letters,” Richards-Lutz said. “This evening is a success because of his caring, hard working traits as well as his skills in human resources.”
Following the signing, where students donned the hats or help up shirts of the business or military branch they were joining, Richards-Lutz said the day could be called nothing but a success.
“In 23 years here in Culpeper, this has been the best day,” Richards-Lutz said. “The senior job fair, I left that day feeling the same way I feel now - I’m just absolutely proud. I’m proud of our students, I’m proud of our employers.”
She said the students had worked closely with the administration to make the signing day happen.
“They were really excited about it,” Richards-Lutz said. “We have such wonderful students. They care, they want to learn. They want to do their best. We have high expectations and they rise to it.”
Eastern View High school senior Jacob Settle was one of three students who signed with Chemung Contracting. He will join their apprenticeship program starting out at approximately $40,000 a year and will have any of his future education paid for through Ed and Cathy Dalyrymple’s business.
“With the job opportunities they have and all the courses you could take through them and all the opportunities, I couldn’t turn it down,” Settle said.
Settle said the business fair held on April 9 and the signing day signals a sea change for CCPS, as they’ve helped direct students who aren’t going to college to find jobs right out of high school.
“Students usually come out and they don’t have a job, but this right here gives them an opportunity to get a job and meet different employers and it’s a good experience,” Settle said.
Bywaters-Baldwin said the school system should be commended for their efforts - which includes the building of a new CTE school near Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center.
“The schools are knocking it out of the park connecting all these young people with jobs and careers,” Bywaters-Baldwin said. “For Goodwill, that’s what we’re all about - connecting people to work. To be a part of this to see the future for the young people but also the talent for the local businesses, it really celebrates our business community too.”
Dalrymple said Chemung Contracting and Cedar Mountain Stone have been looking forward to a program like this for years.
“This is our future,” Dalyrymple said. “We’ve worked at this for years. This is the first time we’ve successfully brought people into the program and signed them. The three people who are coming to work right now are our future. We’re going to train people to work in our industry. They’ll be trained to run asphalt plans, to do asphalt, mix designs and test them. Everyone of them is like three people to the company.”
List of students signing:
Trey Holmes, Eastern View High School, Town of Culpeper
Orvelio Castanon, Culpeper County High School, Bingham and Taylor
Emma Welborn, EVHS, enrolled in Germanna Community College LPN program and will sit for Certified Nursing Assistant credential
Solveig Barklund, EVHS, enrolled in Germanna Community College LPN program and will sit for Certified Nursing Assistant credential
Joining the United States Marine Corp: Roman Obarski, Aidan Brooks, Thomas McCoffee, Aric Henley, Joseph Melendez, Joseph Heflin, Connor Morey, Roland Grum, Erick Rivera Castillo, Nathaniel PettyJohn
Joining the Virginia National Guard: Stephen South and Yulissa Nublero, CCHS
Joining the U.S. Army: Yon ter Vela, Diego Saldana Jimenez, Savannah Byeline. Not present: Sierra Dwyer
Joining the U.S. Navy: Luis Escalante, EVHS. Ashlyn Seningen, CCHS.
Joining the Coast Guard: Connor Dekker
Jake Straus, EVHS, Appleton Campbell
Madyson Gibson Craft, Ciara Woolfolk, and William Smith, CCHS, Kid Central
Ingri Lemus, Emma Kresse, Colby Minor, EVHS, Kid Central
Amelia Young, CCHS; Jacob Settle, EVHS, Cedar Mountain Stone Corp and Chemung Contracting
Henry Klooser, CCHS, Fairfax Hydrocrane
Brianna Lynch, CCHS, Panera Bread
Megan Massey, CCHS, Ledo Pizza
Adam Mifsud, CM Contracting and Consulting
Juan Duran, R.E. Faylor Contracting
Michael Vega, CCHS, Starbucks