Tri-C celebrates 50 years

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By Larry Di Giovanni Messenger Staff Journalist



“Graduating with my class showed I can do anything I can put my mind to.” Aleta Eberett Adams Tri-C Class of 1977

NELSONVILLE — There were several ways to celebrate Tri-County Career Center’s 50 years of existence on Thursday at the school campus.

Alumni and their children who wanted to relive the center’s formative years — back when it was known as Tri-County Joint Vocational School (JVS) starting in 1968 — had access to table upon table of photos and memorabilia to pore through, decade by decade. Or, they were welcome to visit the library and find their class pictures.

Other visitors interested in viewing what Tri-County’s juniors and seniors of today are up to were offered fast-paced tours by Amy Doerfler, the center’s marketing coordinator. The brisk pace was necessary to pop in and out 20 programs worth of classrooms and labs, which serve 450 students from Athens, Hocking and Perry counties. Programs range from cosmetology and culinary arts to sports medicine and power line technologies.

Tri-County Joint Vocational School was founded by visionary Athens County Schools Supt. Thomas C. Porter, who also established Hocking Technical Institute (now Hocking College). For good measure, he also initiated the groundwork for the former Hocking Valley Motor Lodge that became the Inn at Hocking College, according to a “Building Careers for 50 Years” tribute to Porter offered to Thursday’s celebrants.

The idea behind Tri-County JVS was to offer the best in hands-on vocational school training in order to prepare students for jobs in the workforce directly or to be utilized at technical and community colleges.

The school changed its name to Tri-County Career Center in 2003, following a statewide trend. Mindy Ingram, who works in the office of Tri-C Supt. William Wittman, has been a fixture at the school for 37 years and has seen nearly four decades worth of changes. She said the biggest change has involved programs which keep up with contemporary workforce and job training needs.

Numerous programs among the 20 offered, such as Nursing Technology, lead high school graduates into longer-term goals such as becoming registered and licensed practical nurses, and even nurse practitioners. For the Nursing Technology program, Ingram noted, a more immediate goal available to students is to graduate after two years at Tri-County while also being tested and certified as an STNA (State Tested Nurse Aide).

The Auto Service Technology program, another tour stop on Tuesday, gives students one year out of two years of service required in an auto shop before a trainee can be tested to become ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified.

 Some programs also have a definite positive impact in the local community, Doerfler said. For example, the Construction Trades program, taught by master carpenter Tom Harden, features a wall of photos of every home graduates have constructed. They build at least one new home every year, Doerfler said. The Electrical Trades program works on electrical wiring of up to four houses per year, and will soon be creating a 440-volt electrical system that will serve the city of Nelsonville’s Polley Field pool house. The city is in the planning process of the turning the recently re-roofed pool house into a small community center.

Many Tri-County Career Center programs simply update themselves, including their names, for the times they’re in. While the Cosmetology program remains one of the most popular programs, Principal Connie Altier said, another long-standing program, formerly called Farm Technology, is now known as Diesel/Ag Technology.

Tri-County’s 50-year celebration was capped Thursday by a 1968-2018 evening celebration. There were video clips highlighting different superintendents in their posts through the decades, and a presentation from State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville). Remarks were offered by an alumnus, Major Caleb Moritz of the Hocking County Sheriff’s Association.

The keynote speaker was alumna Aleta Eberett Adams, who was president of her 1977 Senior Cosmetology Class. After her graduation, she joined the Army for six years before returning to Tri-County to learn how to manage beauty salons.

Adams later earned a bachelor’s degree in business at Ohio University before returning to the military, and in a big way. She is currently the target test director for the Space and Missile Command of the U.S. Department of Defense.

 A photo of Adams and description of her accomplishments greet visitors as they enter Tri-County Career Center, as she is one of many teachers and graduates honored throughout the building.

The photo of Adams was taken in Hawaii, as she launches at rocket at Kauai’s Barking Sands Missile Range.

“Being class president of the 1977 Cosmetology Class taught me leadership, graduating with my class showed I can do anything I can put my mind to, and knowing how to cut hair afforded me the opportunity to meet people that I would never have had the chance to meet (otherwise),” she wrote of her Tri-County student experience.