Students Excited By Hands-On Experience

“Hands-on” is the key phrase students are quick to point out when asked
why Calhoun County’s new Career and Technical Center is most exciting
to them. “I learn better when it’s hands-on,” said Charlie Easley of Calhoun City.


By JOEL McNEECE
“Hands-on” is the key phrase students are quick to point out when asked why Calhoun County’s new Career and Technical Center is most exciting to them.
“I learn better when it’s hands-on,” said Charlie Easley of Calhoun City.
Easley, a junior at CCHS, plans to study some form of engineering in college and believes the industrial maintenance program at the Career and Technical Center can improve his college and career opportunities.
“I was told that going into this for two years would really help me to get more people to look at me and my resume,” Easley said.
Lynn Stewart, who worked for nine years as the machine shop supervisor at the University of Mississippi, is teaching the industrial maintenance course.
“Lynn is one of the smartest guys I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said Don Hardin, director of the Calhoun Career and Technical Center.
Morgan Russell, a sophomore at Vardaman High School, is the lone female in Stewart’s class, but she’s not intimidated.
“I thought learning welding and things like that would be really interesting,” Russell said.
Jarvis Rounds was excited by the opening of the Career and Technical Center because it aids him with his career goals.
“I’ve always been interested in working on cars,” said Rounds, a senior at CCHS. “This Automotive Service Technology class will give me a better understanding of this kind of work. I’d like to come back after college and open a shop here in Calhoun City. I can’t wait until the opening of our shop here.”
Currently, the Career and Technical Center is being operated out of several classrooms at Calhoun City Middle School. Bid openings are later this week for the remodel of the old Kellwood Building where the classes will move permanently sometime after Christmas.
Ed Parker, owner/operator of Ed’s Garage for more than 25 years, is the automotive instructor.
“I enjoy teaching the younger generation how to fix cars,” Parker said.
Michael Gates, a Bruce High School student, is enjoying Parker’s class.
“I’ve always been interested in cars,” Gates said. “I want to go into some form of that field.”
Bruce High School sophomore Lisa Wells feels right at home in the new Allied Health program.
“I want to eventually take over for my dad (Dr. Willie Wells of Bruce),” Wells said. “I really like it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Kaitlyn Doles of Calhoun City also has ambitions of entering the medical field and jumped at the chance to enter the Allied Health program.
“This is hands-on learning,” Doles said. “It will really help me get a head start heading to college with this experience.”
Melissa Parker, who served as the school district’s nurse for the past 10 years and has over 23 years experience in the nursing field, is the class instructor.
“This is a great opportunity to be in on the new beginning of a great step in education for our county,” Parker said.
Stephen Morgan, a senior at Vardaman, is grateful for the opportunity. He plans to attend college at Ole Miss and major in Biology to prepare for pre-med.
“It will help me with a lot of the medical terminology and by getting some hands-on experience,” Morgan said. “Getting certified in CPR and first-aid might be useful and should look good on an application.”
“People can see a lot more with this kind of learning, rather than the more traditional approach,” Morgan said. “I hate I’m not going to be here for the full two years, but it’s a great experience just for this one.”
Nick Doles, a Mississippi State graduate with experience in heating and cooling manufacturing and home remodeling, is teaching the building trades course. This opportunity was a perfect fit for Calhoun City High School’s Jamie Russell.
“This is what I know and what I’m going to do,” said Russell, who works with his dad Boyd and grandfather Joe Lee with the family business – Russell Contracting.
“This is great to have a hands-on course in school in my interest rather than just books all the time,” Russell said.
The most cutting-edge course in the Career and Technical Center is “Digital Media Technology.” Twenty-one state-of-the-art Apple Macintosh computers fill this classroom that is unmatched in the state.
“This is the only lab like this in Mississippi,” Hardin said. “The software we’re using in these classrooms is the same as major production companies that make movies. Even CNN uses this software for its editing.”
Apple representatives from the home office in California recently visited to help setup the new lab.
Instructor Sherrie Powell, a member of the Mississippi Re-design Team, is helping to develop this new course with a teacher at Hinds Community College, the only other place this program has been implemented thus far.
“Everything today involves computers,” said Ada Lagos of Vardaman. “Anything I want to do, I need to know this kind of technology.”
“I wanted to learn more of how graphics and movies are made,” said Marcus Ingram of Bruce. “This technology is used all over. It’s great to be exposed to all of this.”
Shaunvanta Ingram of Bruce said the hands-on learning in Powell’s class is what makes school fun.
“There is no comparison to regular class,” Ingram said.
All of the students agreed the Career and Technical Center, which has 151 enrolled this year, is a great addition for Calhoun County.
“It’s a chance for all the schools to come together as one in the same classroom,” said Kevin Barnette, a senior from Vardaman in the industrial maintenance program. “It’s interesting. It’s different. It’s a great experience.”

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