SIGNING DAY: Students sign LOIs to TCAT Elizabethton

Published 6:40 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Area high school students signed to continue their educational careers during a special ceremony held at TCAT Elizabethton Thursday afternoon. The event was livestreamed to a national audience.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Area high school students signed to continue their educational careers during a special ceremony held at TCAT Elizabethton Thursday afternoon. The event was livestreamed to a national audience.

Engineering success comes naturally for one technical school based in Carter County.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Elizabethton filled its auditorium to the brim with over 200 attendees Thursday afternoon for their second annual special signing ceremony, sponsored by the National Coalition Certification Center (NC3) that featured regional high school students that will continue their education at the facility following graduation.
As their names were called, students from Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties took center stage and signed their letters of intent to attend TCAT Elizabethton and received a special commemorative hat following the process. Seventy students signed up to attend the school.
TCAT Elizabethton Director Dean Blevins, who also serves as the postsecondary chairman of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council for the state, described the event as special and needed to highlight students that are working to hone their crafts and traits to make a seamless transition into the workforce.
“For years, high schools have celebrated the signing of athletes going on to the college level to continue playing sports,” Blevins said. “We felt this ceremony was necessary to highlight our high school students that are moving on to a technical school so they can receive training in the crafts to prepare for the workforce.”
TCAT Elizabethton was one of 27 technical schools across the state and of the over 40 nationwide that livestreamed the event to a national audience.
“All 27 TCATs in the state of Tennessee took part in this livestream,” Blevins said. “It’s not only an excitement here at TCAT Elizabethton and in Carter County, but it is across the state and all over the nation. All of the technical schools across the country took part to honor their students that are moving on to receive postsecondary education.”
And the proof of the accomplishments by the facility can be easily seen just from their competition rates. For a 12-month period, which concluded August 2016, TCAT Elizabethton boasted a 90 percent completion rating, 89 percent for job placement and 93 percent for licensing passage from the Tennessee board of nursing.
The list of students that signed up for the school included 21 for Welding, 12 for Electricity/Electronics, 11 for Automotive Technology, 10 for Diesel Power Equipment Technology, four each for Certified Nurse Assistant and HVAC/Refrigeration, two each for Administrative Office Technology and Millwright/Industrial Maintenance, and one each for Computer Information Technology, Machine Tool Technology, Pipefitting and Plumbing, and Phlebotomy.
Moderated by John Lee, NC3 Certified Instructor at TCAT Elizabethton, Thursday’s event featured guest speakers from Snap-On, Trane and Fiat Chrysler, which the school is heavily involved with thanks to partnerships.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey also addressed attendees and praised the students’ work, along with the staff at TCAT Elizabethton.
“This beautiful consolidated campus is one of Carter County’s crown jewels,” Humphrey said. “In the more than 50 years of the school’s existence, thousands of workers have received technical training for employment to provide a livelihood for them and their families. Today, the second and third generations of those early graduates are now attending TCAT Elizabethton.”
The growth of the program goes along with the Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s pledge to build up the education aspect and help build up the workforce in the state.
“It’s really exciting, especially over the past couple of years with the initiatives put in place by Governor Haslam,” Blevins said. “With the ‘Drive to 55’, including the Tennessee Reconnect and Tennessee Promise, allows scholarship and grant opportunities to high school seniors, including the opportunity to attend technical schools free of charge.”

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