Posted Date: 02/06/2017
Konner Walker, son of Kurtis and Sandra Walker, is in his first year of coursework at Highland Community College Technical Center (HCCTC) in Atchison. Konner, who has always had a keen interest in “how things work” and “doing ‘things’ with my hands” is currently enrolled in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) program at HCCTC. During the first semester Konner earned all “A’s” in his program, while taking classes in Hand and Power Tools, Occupational Safety, EPA 608, Sheet Metal, Commercial Refrigeration and Technical Math.
The students are in class for close to two hours and thirty minutes in Atchison; typically, they will be in the classroom for 30 minutes to read specific areas of concentration from their textbooks. They also, as seen by one of the classes in the program, will learn some math concepts-material they may have learned in a high school class, but, for many of our students, mathematics that is designed for exactly what they will be doing on the job. The students have two hours in the shop where they are working on air conditioning and heating units, including troubleshooting areas of concern throughout the campus in Atchison. They also learn how furnaces and air conditioning units work and how the entire unit is assembled.
This semester, Konner’s list of classes includes Heating System Fundamentals, Air Conditioning Control Systems, Plumbing II, and Workplace Skills. While looking at the list of classes Konner, and the other HVAC students take, one will notice that there are many classes that are exactly what he will be doing on the job, but there are other classes (for example, Workplace Skills) that help the students better understand what is expected of them on the job and in the workplace. These are the “Soft Skills” that we talk about-those attributes that employers are wanting their employees to have, but in many cases have to teach them.
In May, 2018, when Konner is ready to graduate from Pleasant Ridge High School, he will have completed his program at HCCTC and will receive a Certificate in Residential and Commercial HVAC. The placement of students who complete the HVAC program at HCCTC is close to 100%. Konner will be able, if he chooses, to complete his Associates Degree if he continues one year, after graduation, to take classes at HCCTC.
Konner has put forth the effort needed to be successful at HCCTC and they are providing him, as well as our other students, with opportunities that may not have been available for students in the past. The partnership USD 449 has with Highland Community College Technical Center is one that benefits both institutions and Konner Walker is an example of one of many changes that have taken place in the education field over the past 20 years.