MORGANTOWN — Going to the Monongalia County Technical Education Center (MTEC) and learning a skill that would stay with him for life was the best advice Kory Stephens ever followed, he said at Wednesday May 16’s graduation ceremony.
Stephens spoke as the representative of graduating high school students at MTEC’s 50th graduation and was one of 165 students to earn a certificate or diploma. The ceremony was held in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at WVU’s Creative Arts Center.
“MTEC, it’s made me a totally new person,” he said. “It’s the first school I’ve ever been to where teachers, they care about you as much as they do.”
Cheers, applause and tears of joy filled the room as students crossed the stage to receive their certificate or diploma. Many elected to hug their program’s teacher, while others elected to shake hands. One student in the ProStart Restaurant Management program chest bumped his teacher eliciting cheers and laughter from the audience and presenters alike.
First-year Principal Jon Pollock also had high praise for the school, and said working with the school’s faculty and watching the progress and achievements of the students has been one of the most “incredible experiences” of his life.
“Fifty years of gathering together for evenings just like this, where we honor those who earned the right to be called career and technical education and vocational completers,” he said. “Tonight is a reason for you to feel proud of all you have done to be prepared, confident and motivated to move on to the next stage in your lives.”
MTEC taught its students lots of things, Brianne Dillsworth, adult graduate representative said. One thing she learned during her time in the school’s pre-LPN program is that it’s OK to have a mental breakdown, but it’s not ok to give up. At the end of the day, you’re tougher than your problems, she said.
Twenty-three students in 2018’s class passed the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), which is a high school equivalency diploma. Lezlie Lough, school counselor, said the GED replacement is a comprehensive exam of everything learned in high school and not an easy test. Despite its difficulty, 83 percent of those who earned it this year passed with distinguishing marks in at least one subject, she said.
Matheus dos Santos de Moura, 18, of Brazil, said now that he passed the TASC he plants to continue his education in college, either at MTEC or WVU. He said he wants to be an engineer.
Other students, such as Luke Fletcher, 17, who graduated from two programs, said he plans to start working and if things go well, join the Navy.
He said MTEC prepared him for the Navy by teaching him to work well with others, but also to be independent.
“You need both,” he said.