Mt. Pleasant Area elementary school students tour CWCTC

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 9:10 p.m.

Sixth-grade students in the Mt. Pleasant Area School District recently had the opportunity to learn about the variety of career options offered by the Central Westmoreland Career and Technical Center (CWCTC) in New Stanton.

This is the first time students from Donegal, Norvelt and Ramsay elementary schools were given such a chance.

Traditionally, district students have not been taken on a tour of the facility until they enter their freshman years at the Mt. Pleasant Area Junior/Senior High School.

“We want to encourage career awareness at a younger age so, when they get to the high school, it is not a bombardment,” said Debbie Pierce, a student counselor at Norvelt Elementary.

Pierce and her fellow district elementary school counselors recently received a “Counseling For Career Success” grant. The program is sponsored by United Way and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Beth Butala, CWCTC career education counselor, said the initiative is designed to educate children in kindergarten through grade 12 about a variety of careers.

“A team of elementary and high school counselors have been going to workshops over the past year to enhance the curriculum in career awareness,” Pierce said. “The fifth graders are now doing a career interest inventory and Beth (Butala) has been visiting the schools, giving power point presentations to the fifth- and sixth-graders.”

One aspect of CWCTC studies that students learned about was the center's Powerline program, which relates the work involved with repairing power lines, climbing utility poles and the safety procedures involved.

Other fields the students were told about on the tour included cosmetology, horticulture, graphic design, heath occupations technology and culinary arts.

In addition, every program offered at the school had a display set up in a general location for students to visit.

“We wanted the children to be able to tour the facility and to be able to see all 23 different career programs we offer here and talk to (CWCTC) students about what they do here every day,” Butala said.

Matthew Achtziger, 11, of Acme, a sixth grade student at Donegal Elementary School enjoyed the visit to the school.

He said he found the tour to be interesting, particularly the display featuring mechatronics — a new program involving mechanical instrumentation, electronics, robotics, automation and computer systems — as well as the health occupation technology display.

“I think this would be a nice place to come when I'm older because I think it will help me prepare for college and help get me a job that I might choose in the future,” Achtziger said.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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