Vocational education led teen to expand his horizons and discover true calling
By Patricia Beech
When 17-year old Matthew Grooms walked into the Precision Machine classroom at the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center last September, he’d had no experience with machines or machine shops. Like most young people of his age, he was searching out a path to his future, searching for what he wanted to be and do when he left school. He had no particular idea that he’d find it in the program he’d chosen to study, yet that is exactly what happened.
“The first time I walked into a machine shop was here at the CTC,” he says, and I loved it.”
His hard work throughout the year resulted in his being chosen to participate in the Skills USA regional and state Precision Machine competitions. After winning the regional contest, he went on to place fourth in the state.
“The whole school’s proud of him,” says his instructor, Roy Cooper. “He did the school proud, and he did the program proud.”
Cooper praises Groom’s performance during the competition, “Matthew competed mostly against seniors,” he said. “In fact he was probably the only junior who made it to the state level.”
Competitors had to successfully complete three projects: one of which was written, and two which were machine-based. Students had 45 minutes to complete each segment.
“It was stiff competition,” Matthew says. “You’re up against the best of the best.”
While he is understandably proud of his accomplishments, he doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels. “I’m going to try again next year,” he says, admitting he’s got his eye on the first place spot.
“Students like Matthew are great representatives of the quality of instruction at the OVCTC,” said CTC Director Jason Vesey. “They go on to be great ambassadors for our school in the community.”
According to Vesey, Matthew was one of 40 CTC students who participated in the Skills USA competitions at regional and state levels. Their work earned the school the 2016 Quality Chapter Award for successfully completing the Chapter Excellence Program.
“We are very proud of all of our competitors,” said Vesey, and the teachers and instructors who helped prepare them along the way.”
Matthew says he will pursue a career in the machine industry after graduating.