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Tech Program at Washington Middle to Be Revamped

June 16, 2008

By Jennifer Raley, Cumberland Times News, Md.

Jun. 16–CUMBERLAND — The technology education program at Washington Middle School is about to be revamped.

Students in the sixth-grade technology education class will participate in a newly developed trades curriculum designed to give more students a greater number of career opportunities.

“Our biggest goal is giving our kids more career opportunities,” said Principal Harry Smith, who designed the curriculum with Friends of the Washington Middle School Foundation.

Foundation president and Western Maryland Health System’s director of facilities management Steve Kobert said that the new curriculum will familiarize students with different tools.

“I know how hard it is to find trained and educated people in the trades,” said Kobert. “Qualified individuals are hard to come by.”

The curriculum includes drafting, tool identification and use and designing and building a birdhouse.

In three years, the curriculum will be added to all three grades at Washington Middle.

“It’s just another avenue for kids to be successful,” said Smith.

Smith asked the board to consider permitting students in the program to attend the Career Center as ninth-graders if they wish to do so.

“(Career Center Principal) Mrs. (Deborah) Bittinger likes the idea,” Smith told the Allegany County Board of Education members at their June meeting.

Board member Karen Treber commended Smith for the program improvements, but questioned whether eighth-graders would be ready to make the decision to attend the Career Center.

“We’re just here to plant that seed — we have plenty of time,” said Smith.

Constituent Erin DeLong said she thinks the program is wonderful and hopes it will be offered at all the middle schools in the future.

Also at the meeting, the board, by a 4-1 vote, approved the transfer of $300,000 from fixed charged to capital outlay for a culinary arts program at the Career Center. Board member Jeff Metz voted against the transfer because he said he feels other programs have greater student interest.

Contact Jennifer Raley at jraley@times-news.com.

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