Education career center open house |

Education career center open house

Amanda Holt Miller
Western Garfield County Staff

A tattered old building in Parachute has just completed its miraculous transformation into a sparkling new community resource.

There will be a community open house for Grand Valley Educational Career Center at 7 tonight.

Garfield County School District No. 16 partnered with Colorado Mountain College and EnCana to renovate an old empty building and fill another unused facility with welding equipment.

The old shop building outside of what is now the Early Childhood Development Center, was once the high school, and has been turned into a welding room.

“It will be good for those students who are interested in getting into a trade,” said Sandy Hanson, District 16 director of public relations. “It will give them an opportunity to learn a trade so they can go out and get a good-paying job.”

Only 30 percent of students who graduate from Grand Valley High School go on to college right away. The welding program offers those students a vocational alternative.

The new career center also provides encouragement for students to go on to higher education. The building is outfitted with a few high-tech toys like a smart board in one of the classrooms and a lab full of new personal computers. The building represents a large partnership between the school district and CMC.

The district has always covered the cost for up to two college courses.

“When we did that, we would only see four or five kids a year,” said Rose Belden, the District 16 director of finance. “Now it’s easier, more convenient. They do it here and there are more kids.”

Hanson said between 17 and 20 students of the 102 juniors and seniors participate.

The new career center makes the program even more appealing. In the past, only Grand Valley High School students could take the classes and they were primarily taught by high school teachers. Now students will mingle with community members in their college classes, many of which will be taught by CMC professors.

The new facility cost $400,000. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs covered $280,000 of that with an energy impact grant. The welding equipment is on permanent loan from CMC.

Hanson said the new building will be a community meeting area and the district administration hopes people will make use of the facilities. CMC staff will be at the open house to talk about the courses they teach in the new building and a representative from EnCana will talk about the company’s contribution and its interest in vocational programs like the welding classes. There will be tours and refreshments.

ontact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103

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