FAIRFIELD COUNTY — The Fairfield Career and Technology Center sets a new black and gold standard.
“If I could be the superintendent anywhere in the world, I’d be the superintendent right here in Fairfield County,” said Fairfield County School District Superintendent J.R. Green. “This is just indicative of the outstanding things that are going on.”
The new career center, which created palpable excitement as it opened last Wednesday, is the culmination of nearly a decade of discussion and more than a year of construction.
“It didn’t happen overnight,” Green said. “This has been a process that began long before I arrived in Fairfield County. Apparently, this is a conversation we’ve been having for over a decade, and it has finally come to fruition.”
The center’s long gestation was referenced by Christopher Dinkins, director for Fairfield Career and Technology Center.
“I cannot tell you how much it pleases me to stand here to bring you this welcome for this day,” Dinkins said. “It has been a long, long coming, some of you know much better than me that it has been a long time coming.”
Green thanked and credited past and present Fairfield County School board members for the vision, which made the Fairfield Career and Technology Center a reality.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the school board of trustees, because as much as you read about from time to time, this was a unanimous vote,” Green said. “We had all hands on deck for the building of this career center.”
Chairwoman Beth Reid and board members Carl Jackson, Paula Hartman, Annie McDaniel, Henry Miller, Bobby Cunningham, Andrea Harrison and William Frick were each individually recognized for making the career center a reality.
Green said he is excited by the new facility because of its close proximity to Fairfield Central High School and Fairfield Middle School, as well as the wide array of programs it offers students.
“What excites me about this facility is that we have programs that can accommodate the interests of virtually any student,” Green said. “Whether you see your destination at a four year institution, whether you see your destination at a technical school, or whether you aspire to go straight to work after high school, we feel as if we have programs that can accommodate your interests.”
Course subjects include agricultural education, health science careers, architecture and construction, electricity,fire and emergency services, welding, graphic communications, culinary arts, automotive repair, masonry, automotive service technology, master hair care, computer technology education, information technology, cosmetology, Project Lead the Way engineering and Gateway to Technology engineering.
Green’s jubilant sentiments were shared by Reid.
“I’m going to steal something from Gov. Haley though: It’s a great day in Fairfield County, isn’t it?” Reid asked. “This is the day we have been looking for, hoping for, wishing for, for a long time.”
Fairfield Career and Technology Center Staff were also abuzz about the new facility.
Marwin McKnight, master hair care instructor, said his teaching space will offer students a chance to acquire hands-on experience with excellent equipment, which will remove possibly daunting unfamiliar experiences once students enter the workforce.
“It’s actually way above and beyond the average barber shop,” McKnight said.
Jason Wages, health science career instructor, said the new facility seems to be encouraging increased interest in sports medicine, as Wages anticipates instructing 27 students.
“My usual class is about 19,” Wages said.
Wages said he believes the ample instruction space and opportunity for firsthand experience with sports injuries will give Fairfield County students an advantage compared to students who may only be gleaning information from a textbook.
“They’ll have a strong basis if they want to go into physical training or sports medicine,” Wages said. “It might set them ahead of the curve compared to students who just have textbooks.”
John James, coordinator of technology for Fairfield County School District, touted the ClearTouch interactive panels, which are nearly omnipresent in the new center.
The large, touchscreen educational tools effectively work as a high-tech hybrid of an overhead projector, whiteboard and personal computer.
“There are no projectors in this building,” James said. “They can also hook together to make one big screen.”
Kashinda Sims, sophomore at Fairfield Central High School, said touring the Fairfield Career and Technology Center changed her mind about enrolling in career center courses.
Previously, Sims said she had not considered career center courses.
“I’m not taking courses here, but I want to,” Sims said.
Sims said she liked the new buildings location, style and selection of courses.
“I like the way the building is placed,” Sims said. “It’s open. It gives off a good vibe.”
Reach Ben Hohenstatt at 803-635-4016. Follow him on Twitter @WinnsboroHerald