Twenty-six area students stepped into promising futures when they graduated from the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy and Ottawa County STNA Program on Thursday, May 18. The keynote address was given by Chancellor Randy Gardner of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
The event was a recognition of the hard work and dedication of 15 skilled trades students and their instructors Nick Hendrickson and Nick Wuertz, as well as 11 State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) students and their instructors Lindsy Biggs and Nicole Collins. The STNA Program and Skilled Trades Academy are programs of Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) and Ottawa County Business Advisory Council (BAC).
Participating in the graduation along with Gardner were OCIC Manager of Workforce and Career Exploration Katherine Adams; Ottawa County Commissioners Mark Stahl, Don Douglas and Mark Coppeler; and Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools Superintendent and BAC Acting President Guy Parmigian.
The graduation marked the end of the fourth year of the skilled trades program and the first year of the STNA program. It was the first year the academy hosted a graduation ceremony.
“I decided we were going to have a graduation,” Adams said. “This is important. The skilled trades kids worked super hard all year long. They learned skills and earned certifications. The certifications they earned are not easy. It’s the same with STNA. They worked really hard. That state test is tough.”
The students’ training prepared them to reach their next life goals, whether that was direct entry into the workforce, further skills training or college degrees. The program, which is open to area high school seniors, benefits students and the local business community, which is in dire need of trained employees.
The program has been so successful and popular that it will be expanded next year. Twenty-eight of the 32 available Skilled Trades Academy spots have been filled, and half of the 40 STNA spots are taken.
The graduation not only celebrated the students, but it also helped mold public perception about the importance and dignity of skilled trades. Parmigian referred to the graduates as “ambassadors of a noble profession” during his address to the students.
“You have earned this celebration, and I hope you enjoy this moment of triumph,” he said.