The Waynesboro School Board received an update at its regular meeting Tuesday about Waynesboro High School’s Building Trades Course, which was offered for the first time to students for this academic year.

“I’m really excited to be up here,” said Waynesboro High School Principal Bryan Stamm at the meeting. “It’s one thing we’ve been working on since last year is working on creating what we call our Building Trades Course, which is really a reaction to what the local businesses, what the local factories, basically what people are looking for and trying to make our kids more marketable when [they graduate high school].”

Thirteen Waynesboro High students participated in the pilot year of the Waynesboro High School Building Trades Course, which took them out of the classroom and gave them hands-on opportunities with local trades.

The students also gained experience with electrical work at the Valley Career and Technical Center in Fishersville.

Other opportunities provided students the chance to learn how to frame a wall in a structure, how to wire a house, and the ins and outs of HVAC.

“I think one of the things that’s happened with this program is that analogy of building the plane while you’re flying it,” said Waynesboro Schools Executive Director of Instruction Tim Teachey. “It’s kind of what we were doing. We took advantage of the fact that renovations [at the high school] and we had a new space different from the confined area that we were in, and how could we think differently? There’s lots that we need to improve on and do differently as we go through the program.”

Eleven of the students signed up to join VCTC next academic year after their experience with the high school course.

“I think it’s important to remember that getting kids interested in trades, and the success measures that we were using was to look at how many of them created a pipeline to the programs at Valley Career and Technical Center,” said Waynesboro Schools Director of Secondary Instruction Dr. India Harris. “And so what we’ve effectively done is created a program for our 9th and 10th graders that feeds right into the programs at Valley Tech. And the idea is that our students will be better prepared and better informed about which one of those programs — carpentry, HVAC, electricity — which one do they want to go into, because they’ve experienced a little bit of all of those before they get there.”

Harris added that the fact 11 of the 13 students signed on with VCTC “is a really good sign.”

A new group of students will begin the course in the spring.

“I don’t think we can overstate the importance of working with Valley Tech,” Stamm said.

Vailes Home Improvement Services in Fishersville is one of the local business partners giving Waynesboro High students opportunities to experience the trades. Vailes provides remodeling, plumbing, heating and cooling services to Valley residents and businesses.

Co-owner Chuck Vailes said that he has enjoyed watching “all of this come together.”

“I can’t underscore the excitement that we feel, and how great this program is,” Vailes said.

Darla Miller, principal of VCTC, thanked Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell and the Waynesboro School Board, Harris and others for the opportunity. She said the idea was “trying to figure out ways to get some of your younger students exposed to career and technical ed.”

“We commend you for what you all have done,” Miller said.

Cassell said that he could not say “exactly how this started but this is truly a partnership.”

“It was a pretty big undertaking with construction in our [high school], but the time was right,” Cassell said. “It wasn’t perfect, but we’ll keep working on it and we’ll get it close to perfect. It takes time. You’ve got to start somewhere and I’m proud of the start that we’ve had.”

He added that he thinks the program “can only grow and get better, and help our community overall.”

“I’ll add, too, that it’s not perfect, but when you have 11 students going to VoTech out of Waynesboro — that is perfect,” Vailes said.

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