By Joshua Allen
ONL Staff Reporter
Graduating high school is a milestone most every student involved in public schooling wants to surpass. The choices made before and after that point are crucial to life’s trajectory as many students decide on what colleges are possible or what career path they desire.
A choice that seems to be pragmatic for those seeking higher education, especially when considering a career and obtaining a job once the schooling is complete, is to attend a technical school — sometimes referred to as trade schools.
One of the best in the area on teaching career training is very near Okemah — Wes Watkins Technology Center (WWTC), located in Wetumka.
It’s been “helping area residents achieve their career goals and improve their way of life” since 1987, according to the schools website.
The school — one that has specialty career programs that teach practical nursing, information technology, webmastering, bookeeping, communications, welding, carpentry, buidling maintenance and more — has been awarded the “Gold Star Status Award of Excellence” by Oklahoma Association of Technology Centers for 25 years straight.
WWTC recently held its third annual student signing day, which saw about 125 students sign letters of intent to attend the tech school next August.
The event was held at the WWTC campus on the evening of Tuesday, March 5 where students visited with advisors, faculty and the school’s counselor before posing for pictures holding their signed intent letters.
After the official business of committing to a school of higher education was complete, the future students and their families and friends were treated to a fried chicken meal.
And, to note, just because WWTC is not necessarily a college or university, don’t think it’s a proverbial ‘walk in the park’ to get into. Each student is accepted, based on specific criteria.
“Not everyone that applied got in,” Merida Tomb, the counselor at WWTC, said at the event Tuesday. “The students have to apply, and we can’t accept everyone that does. We have criteria for acception the students have to meet.”
Typically, students come from the tech center’s partner schools — specifically, the eight of the nine partner schools that have high schools.
The Bearden school is the only one of its partners that does not have a high school. Other partner schools are Okemah, Moss, Weleetka, Wetumka, Hanna, Mason, Holdenville and Graham-Dustin
“Something that we always say here a lot is that (Wes Watkins Technology Center) gives students a competitive advantage in education and in the workforce,” Tomb said.
“We want our students to have an advantage to compete for the best jobs,” she added.
WWTC’s district serves — at least in portions — four counties. Those are Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Hughes and McIntosh.
According to the school’s website, “Programs (at WWTC) are designed to have rigorous, challenging career technical content,” giving students the opportunity to “earn industry certifications and/or licensure leading to employment and/or additional education preparing for high demand, high skilled, high wage occupations.”
For more information about WWTC, call 405.452.5500. The campus is located at 7892 Highway 9, Wetumka. School information can also be found on Facebook, as well its website at www.wwtech.org.