CHEEKTOWAGA – Some 1,200 eighth grade middle school students from around Western New York visited the Harkness Career & Technical Center on Aero Drive over the past two days for their annual “Taste of Tech” experience.
Harkness Principal John Wodjeski says the program allows the students to sample three programs from the school’s curriculum. Programs offered at Harkness includes automotive, cosmetology, aviation, electrical, plumbing, and cybersecurity.
Mr. Wodjeski’s interview with Cheektowaga Chronicle took place inside the culinary lab while students were busy preparing a stirfry dish.
“These eighth graders get an opportunity to make their own pasta dish; season it with different things, add different vegetables, and experience what it’s like to be a chef either on a line situation or in a professional environment,” said Mr. Wodjeski.
Down the hall in another lab, another group of students are learning about electrical wiring in the shadow of a fully studded residential mockup. If they choose this program, Mr. Wodjeski says they will be able to wire three-way switches, fans, alarm systems, smoke detectors, and eventually move into electrical motor systems which prepare students for jobs at GM repairing the plant’s assembly lines.
“You could get a trade by going into welding or electrical or plumbing, or you can catapult from that two-year program into college to take it to a different level – whether that be architecture or engineering. It gives the kids an idea that there are other options for them,” added Mr. Wodjeski.
The students will be invited back to Harkness at the start of their 10th-grade year, and the kids get to revisit the programs they sampled and make a final determination on a program which they will study in their 11th and 12th-grade years.
Students interested in the opportunities at Harkness or the three other vocational school run by Erie 1 BOCES can speak to their school’s guidance counselor.