By Brett Milam
Grant Career Center held its annual Community Day event on May 5, allowing members of the community to see various school programs and for businesses and other entities to advertise.
The event, held from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. followed by a dinner until 7 p.m., featured plants for sale, pony rides, a petting zoo and a cruise-in of classic cars.
In addition, community members could look at the different school programs, like biotechnology, cosmetology, early childhood education, veterinary science, auto collision and much more.
Despite the rain, there was still a good turnout for the day’s events.
Those programs also overlapped into activities for kids in attendance. For example, the cosmetology program had face painting and the early childhood education program had different kid games and activities.
Jaimie Smith, a teacher in the bioscience program, noted that its a newer program and not a lot of people understand what it is. In short, it’s essentially taking lab skills of chemistry, biology and other disciplines as applied to living organisms to solve real-world problems.
Biotechnology students presented their capstone projects to community members and offered tattoos to the children.
“They got a budget, had to write a proposal, gather data and analyse,” Smith said. “It was trying to model that research aspect.”
Smith continued, “It’s a very rewarding experience to see the students utilizing the skills they’ve been taught and implement them in their independent projects.”
Some of the projects, like from Clayton Hatcher, a senior, asked the question, “Does the amount of CRISPR affect bacterial growth?”
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, or more simply, recurring DNA that act as a bacterial defense system.
Other projects included Hannah Woodward’s, “The Effect of Betaine Anhydrous on the Heat Resistance of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae,” and plant tissue culture to clone African violets.
With the African violets, Smith said it’s an experiment wherein you hole punch a leaf from the African violet and introduce it to a different hormone or a different root for growth.
“We influenced the cells to produce specific traits,” she said.
In other words, they could make the cell multiply and become a leaf cell instead of a root cell, for example.
“People talk about the skills gap and this is one of those areas with jobs available with nobody to fill them,” Smith said.
Biotechnology jobs cross into all sorts of areas, like healthcare, food production, forensics and agriculture.
Smith noted that Wilmington College and Southern State Community College have partnered to establish a biotechnology transfer pathway for students, where they spend two years taking courses on Southern State’s North Campus and that transfers into a bachelor’s degree program at Wilmington College.
On a different note and program, Amber Falk, a teacher in the patient care program for adults, expressed how great the 9-month program, which runs from January to October, is for adults.
“Things here are good nationally,” Falck said, noting that someone who goes through the program can get nationally certified in phlebotomy, pharmacy technician and EKG technician, as well as become a State Tested Nursing Assistant in Ohio.
Falck said the program is also tailored to adults, especially parents because classes are in the evenings and all work is in-class, i.e., there’s no homework. Falck said they like to make it as easy for the adults as possible.
“The healthcare industry is in huge need of phlebotomists and pharmacy technicians,” Falck said.
Katie Stall, the veterinary science instructor, echoed the theme of student independence and autonomy with the equine and vet program at Grant Career Center.
Despite the rain curtailing the people that would normally be there, Stall said it was still awesome for kids to see and pet animals they don’t normally see, like a snake, a blue-tongued skink, a lizard and so on.
“I think it’s neat to experience animals they don’t normally get to,” Stall said. “It’s very student-led.”
Students even brought in their own animals to show off.
Stall said students lead the classroom and become independent so that it translates to them succeeding in their careers. And the community, she said, has been great in that regard, with employment.
“Students are always glad they came here,” she said.
Jasmine Wrenn, a senior, said part of her job is to help the juniors, then she takes care of the rescue dogs and grooms them.
“I honestly want to go into grooming,” she said. “I do want to work with animals.”
Being an autonomous student isn’t the normal high school experience, though and Wrenn said it takes some getting used to.
“We learn but at a difference pace,” she said.
For now, Wrenn said she is staying away from vet science, however.
“I know because I gave a dog a shot in the wrong vein, he screamed and I cried,” Wrenn said.
Mackenzie Reardon, a senior, is in the equine program. Her duties include cleaning the stalls, feeding them, giving them water and riding them, of course, she said.
When asked which she preferred, cleaning the stalls or riding them, Reardon said “definitely the riding.”
“I am actually going to Ohio State University to become a vet tech,” she said.
Reardon also said she liked the different high school experience.
“Yes, it’s very different,” she noted. “It’s more happy. People want to be here.”
It’s really fun, she said.