By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(May 16, 2019) For the students attending Worcester Technical High School, last Wednesday’s 2019 National Signing Day was more than just a ceremony.
“An event like this is important because it’s good for kids to get recognition for their skills, and it makes them feel like they’re appreciated,” said Di’Mond Lockwood, a Stephen Decatur High School senior and Worcester Technical High School cosmetology student.
Forty students from Pocomoke, Snow Hill and Stephen Decatur High schools were acknowledged for completing vocational classes during the ceremony held on Worcester Technical High School’s campus. In addition to a certificate, students also received a chord to wear at their graduation ceremonies.
Event organizers likened the Worcester Tech ceremony to that of an athlete college-bound to play sports.
“The students who are signing have completed a WTHS program, and now have a pathway to the chosen profession,” event organizers said. The school offers 25 career and technology programs.
Tom Zimmer has advocated for vocational careers during his first year as Worcester Tech’s principal.
“I think we have to realize that not every student is going to college, and so many of them in this building are learning skills [so] that they can go directly into the workforce, and then charge somebody like me $100 an hour to fix my ceiling fan, my air conditioning … things like that,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer added that “there’s been too much of a stigma put on workers,” and felt there needed to be a change.
“I think it’s finally time that we recognize these kids,” Zimmer said.
Jakob Salandanan, a Stephen Decatur High School senior and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning student at Worcester Technical High School, agreed.
“It’s a good feeling, you know,” Salandanan said. “It makes you feel welcome because all the college students … I feel they’re more higher up than trade people … [so] it makes us feel good.”
Rick Stephens, a welding teacher at Worcester Tech praised keynote speaker alumna Colby Macomber.
“Colby is definitely an example of … what takes place in this school,” Stephens said during the ceremony.
Macomber attended Pennsylvania College of Technology, and now owns Pirate Fabrication and Mobile Welding. He also said he has four employees.
His advice for the soon-to-be graduates in the audience: never give up.
“Work hard,” Macomber said during the ceremony. “Just keep doing it … [and] be as useful as you can.”
Several students appear to have plans to do just that, with jobs and education plans lined up after graduation.
Salandanan has a job with Amos Plumbing and Heating after high school. He said he’s most looking forward to the experience he’ll gain in the workforce.
Lockwood plans to work at Creative Day Spa in Ocean City, and enroll in business management classes at Wor-Wic Community College.
“I’m most looking forward to building my own business and clientele,” Lockwood said. “… It’s my passion, so that way I can take care of people. I love making them look good [and] I love doing their hair.”
Tanner Mayhue, a senior at Stephen Decatur High School, studied carpentry during his time at Worcester Technical High School, and will go onto work as a general contractor for M.J. Services in Berlin.
“I just love [carpentry],” Mayhue said. “Its’ one of my passions and I like it, so I want to get it through the rest of my life and keep doing it.”
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) also attended last Wednesday’s event and brought with her a proclamation signed by Gov. Larry Hogan.
Last week’s event was the brainchild of Tracy Lewis, who said he hopes the students’ futures are bright.
“I just hope they’re inspired to look,” Lewis said. “A lot of our industry partners and businesses [came] here to support them so they (the students) can say, ‘That could be me in 10 years, maybe I could own this business.’”
Zimmer also said he plans to continue the National Signing Day tradition for years to come.
As for the students’ next chapter, Zimmer said he “hope[s] they take away a feeling of pride in what they do.”