Shown celebrating the Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center’s 25th anniversary during the Allegan County Fair parade, tech center students and instructors showed off music and clothing ranging from the 1980s to the present.

Tech center celebrates 25 years of education

Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

The Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a 25-years-of-technology-themed celebration on Tuesday, Sept. 23, from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

At 1 p.m., the two original teachers who still teach at the tech center—new media instructor Brian Schenk and welding instructor Richard Currie—will open the time capsule that was buried 25 years ago and compare the items to what is going into the new capsule.

Tech center principal Linda Blankenship said changes are made each year in order to reflect industry standards; she expected 25 years of changes to be quite a sight.

“It is different today than when we opened,” she said. “Technology changes so fast now; we have to prepare our kids for careers that don’t even exist yet.”

Schenk said, “Keeping up with technology is a struggle but we’ve done a good job. Everything has changed, whether it’s been the technology or approach.”

The tech center is an Allegan Area Educational Service Area school and provides instruction to juniors and seniors from local districts throughout the county.

There are 18 programs with welding, building trades, veterinary tech services, criminal justice, machining and CNC, auto technology and culinary arts being the most popular year after year, Blankenship said. Each program will put something in the capsule to be buried this year.

Blankenship said last year alone the tech center had 130 of its top students working throughout the county as part of a work-based learning program and about 45-percent of students leave the center and go straight into the work force. The majority of students leave and further their education.

“Four years ago we began offering college credit through a partnership with Lake Michigan College,” Blankenship said.

Additionally, she said, “The tech center, and any college credit earned while here, is absolutely free to local high school and home-schooled students.”

Schenk said, while there have been many changes through the years, the center’s mission has stayed the same.

“We want to do a good job with local students, give them the optimum chance for career success and promote their futures,” he said.

Blankenship said the entire community is invited to the open house celebration at the center, 2961 116th Ave.

She said there will be music and food provided by culinary students, a time for attendees to view what came out of the capsule and view what’s going into the next one, all followed by tours of the center.

For full story, pick up a copy of the Sept. 18 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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