An opportunity to paint a car, operate a skid steer and use a hydraulic-powered golf putter; those were just some of the activities high school sophomores took part in at the second annual Explore OTC, held today at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. The event is designed to teach students about the subjects they can study at OTC as juniors and seniors in high school.
“We surveyed students and they told us that the factor that most influenced their decision to attend one of our high school programs was the tour at OTC,” said Dr. Matt Hudson, executive dean of technical education at OTC. “They also said that the discussions they had with faculty members in those different departments really influenced them to come to OTC. That’s when we decided to take the show on the road and host everyone in one day.”
High school students have two options to attend OTC as juniors and seniors:
- The Career Center: students attend classes at OTC for half of the day and go to their own high school the other half.
- The Middle College: students attend classes exclusively at OTC.
Students in the Career Center and Middle College have the option to take classes in 20 different programs, including: welding, culinary arts, health sciences and fire sciences. This year, about 600 students are enrolled in the Career Center and the Middle College combined.
During the event, Everton sophomore Savanna True said she had made up her mind to study Early Childhood Development next year at OTC. The opportunity to get a head start on college was her deciding factor.
“I think it will really help me experience going to college, getting used to it and earning credits,” True said.
Students in both the Career Center and Middle College earn a great deal of college credit while they are in high school, and, in some cases, earn an associate degree by the time they graduate from high school.
“It’s definitely beneficial to anyone who comes to this event,” said Kim Harris, Kickapoo High School A+ coordinator. “Students in Middle College or the Career Center get a head start on their college credits, which gives them a leg up on completing their post-secondary education.”
In total, OTC hosted nearly 1,300 tenth graders from 21 area high schools at this year’s Explore OTC event. In 2018, OTC hosted 1,000 high school sophomores for the event’s inaugural year.