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Career Tech Center offers much to students

LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County Career Technical Center played host to Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Chambers County Board of Education. The CTC’s multipurpose room provided the setting for school officials to see how a new program has really taken off in the first semester it’s been offered.

Career Tech is now offering an agriculture curriculum. It’s very popular with the students, and a Future Farmers of America (FFA) Club has been organized. Less than one full semester in the program, and Chambers County is already competing for statewide, and even some national, awards.

CTC Director Ken Sealy thanked the board for following his suggestion of hiring agriculture teachers Josh Bryan and Jordan Harris.

“It’s been crazy,” he said. “We jumped in with two feet. We have 174 students who are now taking it. We have classroom learning, a lab and greenhouses for aquaculture. They are learning that agriculture is so much more than farming.”

The new FFA chapter already has 104 members.

Some of them made a fantastic impression on the board. Dressed in their spanking new FFA coats, they presented Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge and each board member a very colorful floral bouquet made of flowers they’d grown in a greenhouse. Board members and guests present then watched a slide presentation of the club’s activities thus far this year.

They’ve been very busy.

In a leadership development program, they did a ropes course with students from Opelika and Auburn high schools. This tests your capacity to trust your buddy. They took in a Career Day Expo at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley.

“We learned a lot about college-level courses and career opportunities,” said Valley High student Gavin Ervin.

Members of the club got some major exposure to agribusiness at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.

“We learned so much on that trip,” said FFA member Andrew Rehorn.

Showing a photo of a Holstein, he said, “You might be familiar with them from Chick-fil-A,” getting some laughter.

FFA members have passed hunter safety courses and have worked with fourth grade students at Eastside Elementary School in LaFayette.

“In three weeks, we will be having a sale at our greenhouse.” Rehorn said. “We invite you all to come to it. We will have hanging baskets, vegetables, and lots of pretty plants.”

Officer Lawrence Howell brought his drug dog and met with the FFA members to talk about illegal drugs.

“There’s some bad stuff out there now,” said Rehorn.

Members of the club had a chance to put on some goggles that simulated being intoxicated.

“They asked us to throw a sock at one of our classmates,” Rehorn said. “We all missed.”

A highlight event of the semester was the chance to go to the state capitol and meet FFA members from throughout the state and to see state government in action. They had the chance to have a big group picture taken with Gov. Kay Ivey,

They also took part in Alabama Wildlife Day, and learned about endangered species such as he gopher tortoise,

In early March, the FFA members will participate in a Read Across America Day in honor or Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

The group presentation concluded with W.F. Burns student Riley Gilbert reciting the FFA Creed.

“FFA does a fantastic job in leadership,” said Sealy. “Anyone in grades 7 through 12 can be in it.”

During the same meeting, board members witnessed a second impressive presentation by Lee Pino’s science students from Valley High. They talked about how much they’ve learned this year about volcanoes and how much they’d like to go see the big one at Yellowstone National Park.

“We will learn something every single day, and we will never be bored,” one of the student presenters said.

It’s unusual for the board to get a request for this kind of trip, but the student group really did their homework. They will get the chance to go.

“We have some pretty amazing student speakers,” said Dr. Hodge.

“This will be a fantastic opportunity for the students,” Pino added.