Student presentations shed light on BOCES programs
BY Dan Kapuscinski
School Information Officer
Three Skaneateles High School students who take part in the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES program presented before the Skaneateles Central Schools Board of Education, bringing to light the many real world experiences and opportunities afforded to them through the BOCES program.
Skaneateles seniors Clark Strang and Joseph McIntyre along with junior Thomas Greenfield were the featured speakers, presenting on their experiences gained in the fields of machining and welding as well as heavy equipment operations and repair.
Kathryn Carlson, BOCES Board of Education representative from the Skaneateles Central School district, facilitated the round table discussion that took place between the three students.
Strang was the lone representative of the Machining and Welding program on the panel. The senior went into detail on his program which is a unique blend of two professions, helping students to develop job readiness skills relative to welding and machine operations over the course of a two year period.
“It’s really essentially two programs,” said Strang. “The first year you spend half the course as a welder and the other half as a machinist. The second year you get to pick which program you want to specialize in. I chose to be a machinist.”
From there, the real world applications came into play right away, helping to foster good work ethics and employable skills.
“A lot of times when local farmers have issues or parts breaking on their equipment, they will bring them into our machine shop and our welding shop and we get to fix them,” said Strang. “Now that I am in my second year I have moved on to learning CNC machining, which I really enjoy. I have always loved working with my hands. I’ve been able to make parts for tractors, diesel engines, and projects for myself. It is a great pleasure to be in the program.”
Both McIntyre and Greenfield are a part of the Heavy Equipment Repair & Operation program where they have the opportunity to learn entry-level skills needed in today’s construction industry from shop management, specific equipment repair and operation, as well as Class A & B truck driving.
McIntyre went on to explain just some of the hands on activities he has experienced during his time in the program.
“Behind the BOCES campus there was a new cheese factory being built last year,” said McIntyre. “Vitale would bring their dump trucks across the corn field to dump dirt and we would be able to smooth it out with our dozers. A few of us lucky ones were able to actually operate and control the 35-ton dump trucks by ourselves, shifting through the gears, dumping dirt, helping with the process.”
Greenfield, a junior, has not had as many on site opportunities as the seniors but has had some experience in the field.
“I had the opportunity to work for BOCES maintenance,” said Greenfield. “We rebuilt and maintained the brooms that brush the sidewalks on campus.”
For now Greenfield is mostly working in the classroom, studying to collect knowledge and certifications that will help him advance in the workforce.
“One of the major certifications is for forklifts,” said Greenfield. “We practice and then have to pass a written exam which explains a lot of stuff that I had no idea about with forklifts. After the written test we have to pass a course that the teacher sets up. It’s tight. There are tires and we are carrying a pallet, so you really can’t see very well. We have to maneuver the course to pass. “
Passing courses such as this and earning other certifications and licenses through the BOCES program can expedite the students’ future job search process.
“It saves a lot of time,” said Greenfield. “For forklifts, if you pass the course, you can go right to work at Lowe’s or The Home Depot and other places that could require a forklift certification.”
A major license made available to students in heavy equipment operation and repair, which can be used in a wide variety of future applications, is a Class B driver’s license.
“I think one of the biggest things that attract students to our course is the Class B license,” said McIntrye. “A Class B allows you to drive things such as a dump truck, anything over 10,000 lbs. You get this license for free by completing the course. Then once you turn 21 you can go for your Class A, or tractor trailer license, and you can get that for a reduced price having gone through the BOCES course.”
Strang, the machinist on the panel, noted that his program also offers certifications in machining and welding as well as licenses to use certain controlled gases.
While hands on operations are key in these fields, BOCES also offers courses within these programs on business management and planning, a skill needed for those who may aspire to be managers or perhaps run their own businesses in the future.
“We’ve been learning in our English classes how to actually run a business and make a business plan. The business end is important,” said Greenfield. “My family owns a local farm, so learning now will save me a lot of office time. My dad runs the office now, but he’ll eventually pass it down to me.”
All three students were well spoken, concise and clear on the aspects of their programs, with one note becoming gleamingly clear – each would not have been able to get these hands on experiences anywhere else.
“I had no idea what a machinist was when I came into the program, I initially thought I wanted to be a welder,” said Strang. “But in time I realized that only using a mill and a lathe, you can basically build anything in the world from scratch. That whole aspect and way of thinking about it was really intriguing to me. Now, I do my own work in my spare time.”
Despite growing up on a farm, even Greenfield was able to gain new and valuable experiences to help his future career path.
“The machines that we operate in the program are more construction based than farm based, so I’ve been getting used to the controls,” said Greenfield. “Everything on a backhoe is backwards. So I hopped right in and went to do something and it went the wrong way. That’s what makes the program a real eye opener.”
Stephen Widrick, State Street Intermediate School Principal, was pleased to see the growth and determination in the three presenters; young men he has watched grow through the Skaneateles Central School system.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of these three young men,” said Widrick. “They are fine examples of providing kids the necessary skills in school so they can make decisions about the coursework they want to pursue and prepare themselves for life after school. Watching their presentation was one of those moments in my career that I will never forget. Clark (Strang) even gave me his business card so I can contact him for a future project.”
For more information on the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES program visit online at www.cayboces.org.