The Blue Valley School District provides many possibilities for students to get a taste of future college and career paths through a vast array of programs. However, many students have interests in areas that lack academic opportunities.
This is why the Olathe Advanced Technical Center (OATC) is available to students wishing to pursue alternate occupational preparations.
“There’s not an automotive training program here in our district,” counselor Greg Curran said. “There’s a lot of costs involved. Olathe invites our students to come join them if we have students that are interested.”
The OATC offers hands-on learning in culinary studies, construction and early childhood teaching, along with their automotive technology and collision courses. Classes are held for three consecutive hours of the school day at the OATC facility.
“They train you in specialized skills and help you get certified,” Curran said. “Once you finish your training, you can get a job immediately out of high school.”
Senior Dallas Miller is a part of the OATC and said he recommends others enroll in the program to gain real- life knowledge on how to solve problems and work with mechanics.
“You get to know how to work on your own vehicles so you don’t have to worry about your own automotive problems,” Miller said.
Those interested in joining the OATC can talk to their counselor and then fill out an application. After that, students will go to the OATC and take a tour to assess if it is something they want to be a part of.
“[Administrators] really want to screen [students] well because the spots they have are valuable,” Curran said.
“They don’t want to have a student take a spot and then realize they don’t really want to do it.”
Senior Chris Jones said he is enrolled at the OATC because of the love he has for cars and customizing them.
“I am in the automotive collision course [where] we work on body damage and painting,” Jones said.“It is a good course that gives you experience in the real world.”
This specialized learning system gives students the chance to pursue passions they will use well beyond their high school life, Curran said.
“Not everyone wants to be a welder, and not everyone wants to work on cars,” he said. “But for those that do, this is outstanding training for them.”