Tech center keeps growing

A record 87 high school students are enrolled in any of the five main courses offered at the Regional Rural Technical Center in LaHarpe, organizers said. Welding continues to be the most popular program at the tech center.



October 5, 2021 - 10:53 AM

Interest in the Regional Rural Technical Center in LaHarpe continues to grow, with a record 87 students taking part in five areas of study, and two new teachers who are familiar faces to Iola High School students.

Welding continues to be the most popular program at the tech center, USD 257 Superintendent Stacey Fager said. 

In fact, the class has become so popular that it expanded to three sessions. Three adults also are taking classes. 

“I think a lot of kids just like doing it. They like welding,” Fager said. “And I think it has caught on as a financial consideration for a future career.”

Welders remain in high demand. The average annual salary is about $42,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Instructor Blaine Crellin already has visited with local businesses about some of his second-year students, hoping to help them connect and even interview for jobs after graduation, Fager said. 

“He’s reaching out to businesses to see if those students who want to stay local can help their community,” Fager said.

HEALTH care programs also continue to bring high interest.

IHS science teacher Lisa Wicoff is teaching an anatomy and physiology class in partnership with Allen Community College. It’s a dual credit class offered at the tech center. Of the 14 students enrolled, 11 come from IHS.

“That’s going really well,” Fager said.

CNA classes also continue to be popular, with 10 signed up for the program this fall.

ANOTHER familiar face has taken over the wind tech program, now in its third year. 

For the first two years of the program, Dan Cyre taught the class for Cloud Community College in Concordia. But from the beginning, Cyre said he would soon retire.

Paul Miller, a full-time substitute for USD 257, has taken over the program. Miller is a student favorite, Fager said. 

“Paul just has a way with these high school students. He’s very engaging and a good fit for that program,” Fager said. “I think he will help with the popularity of that program.”