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Prospective students get inside look at vocational-technical school

Brayden Cenc, a student at Butler Senior High School, leads April Heidkamp through a virtual reality program in the Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School's collision repair program during the school's open house Thursday, Nov. 16. Eddie Trizzino/Butler Eagle

BUTLER TWP — Many parents shadowed their children at their workplaces Thursday, Nov. 16, when the Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School had its annual open house.

April Heidkamp visited the collision repair program space at the school, which her daughter, Seneca Valley Senior High School student Ellie Heidkamp, is enrolled in. She used a virtual reality set to practice spray painting a car, even though most students at the school normally use real spray paint on real vehicles.

“We don’t typically use it, it’s just to help kids get in if they don’t have a real project to work on,” said Brayden Cenc, a student at Butler Senior High School. “We just got it last year.”

Jared Ryan, principal of the vo-tech, said the annual open house allows prospective students to see the school’s 16 programs in action, demonstrated by staff and current students.

According to Ryan, the open house is an opportunity for ninth-grade students to see what is possible at the school.

“That's our biggest hope, is that we have students come in and see what their future can be,” Ryan said.

Programs at the vo-tech use a simulated workplace learning model, where students work on real projects for real clients alongside practice work. That simulated workplace environment was on display in many of the departments Thursday, with cosmetology students doing hair and makeup for visitors, and collision repair students buffing out dents in vehicles.

Ryan said current students at the school enjoy demonstrating their work for their parents and others, which helps make the open house engaging for newcomers each year.

“You really can't go wrong to stop in and see any of them,” Ryan said. “They'll all have things set up and demos going on.”

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