0501 career signing


Extendicare officials Tammy Whiddon (left) and Wanda Smith (right) honor Heather Beard at a signing day ceremony Tuesday at Houston County Career Academy. Extendicare has offered to cover the tuition of Beard and three other HCCA students as they pursue their certified nursing assistant training at Wallace Community College.

In a ceremony reminiscent of widely popular athletic scholarship signing ceremonies, 12 Houston County Career Academy students placed pen on paper Tuesday.

They did not sign scholarship offers, but they inked documents that may still alter the course of their lives -- job offers. The 12 students of the Houston County Schools system received some sort of career-technical training through HCCA and parlayed those skills into jobs at several local businesses.

For years, education officials have conducted signing ceremonies for students going to college on athletic scholarships. In recent years, some have begun to offer the same accolades to students advancing their lives with skills obtained through career-technical training – a practice that Cottonwood High School student Chase Maddox appreciated Tuesday.

“College isn’t for everybody, and there’s a lot of smart people who are smart in different ways,” Maddox, who signed an agreement with Techway Automotive, said. “It’s nice to get recognition. When (others) go to play sports, that’s a life-changing event. All the things we’re leaving from here to do are life-changing. It’s future steps for us.”

The 12 students represented various career paths – from four who signed agreements with Extendicare to several in the automotive technician industry. Many of the skills the students learned at HCCA could lead to lucrative careers: Robert Braden of Bondy’s Ford noted the salary of his top technician has exceeded $100,000 each of the past four years.

“There used to be a stigma about what used to be called vocational training and is now known as career-technical training,” said Glenn Maloy, HCCA director. “Not anymore.”

Maloy also recognized seven students who have earned career-technical scholarships to Wallace Community College or Enterprise State Community College: Ashford’s Holden Lanton (electrical); Cottonwood’s Preston Wells (aviation); Rehobeth’s Jesse Boyett (automotive), Korin Lolley (welding), and Andrew Woods (welding); and Wicksburg’s Dylan Knowles (applied engineering), and Clayton Redding (applied engineering).

Maloy said the ceremony – a first for HCCA – allowed him to tout students’ accomplishments while sharpening the relationship between educational and business entities.

“Sometimes we think of our students as our customers, but it’s really our business partners,” he said. “We’re providing a product. We want to make sure it’s a product they need.”

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