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Career and Technical Signing Day honors Henrico students entering workforce

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — When a star high school athlete announces where he or she plans to attend college, it is often celebrated by his or her school, and sometimes even broadcast on television. Those celebrations inspired Henrico Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director Mac Beaton to create a similar event for students who graduated his program prepared to enter the workforce.

Henrico School’s Career and Technical Education offer programs that include Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education, Architecture and Construction, Arts, Audio/Video Technology and, Communications, Business Management and Administration, Manufacturing, Marketing, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics

A Facebook post of the March 28 Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day has since gone viral, thanks to Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe’s online praise of the ceremony.

“This is the way forward,” Rowe, who is liked by millions on Facebook, wrote. “No attempt to close the skills gap will ever succeed, until or unless we celebrate those who are willing to learn a skill that’s in demand. This is not just a terrific idea, it’s a model for every other technical school in the country. A big thanks and a hearty congratulations to whomever pushed this idea forward. Here’s hoping others will follow Henrico’s lead.”

During the signing-day event Henrico Schools’ Career and Technical Education program students signed symbolic letters of agreement with their future employers.

“As a HCPS School Board member, I can honestly say it was one of the most inspiring events I’ve attended this year,” school board member Beverly Cocke said. “The parents were proud, the students were confident in their futures and the employers were grateful – winners all around. We’re already planning next year’s event.”

She also invited Rowe to attend next year.

“CTE programs are designed to contribute to the broad educational achievement of students, including the development of academic, technical, and work readiness skills (the ability to work independently and as part of a team, think creatively, solve problems, and utilize technology),” Henrico Schools wrote on the CTE page. “Students who complete CTE programs are prepared for successful transition into postsecondary education and work. Opportunities are available for students to earn college credits through selected courses and to prepare for licensure and/or industry certifications related to their programs of study.”