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#1StudentNWI: A Busy Month at Porter County Career & Technical Center


What’s Happening?
On October 25th the Train Depot was rechristened and open for the public to view. The health occupations class and a few “Living Mannequins” greeted everyone who walked through the door. There were also a group of girls who were dressed in the attire of women from the 1940s era. It provided guests with a historic feeling. Many of the other classes participated in this event too.

The Health Occupations class had a large display about how medicine has changed since 1912 when the Depot was built. The computer aided design class (CAD) made excellent renderings of what the building will look like when completely done. The electronics class had posters displaying how technology has advanced. Then of course, building trades was there to show all the work they have done both inside and outside the building. It was a great example of what the students at the career center do.

The early childhood education class located at Hobart High School also participated in Halloween and fall festivities. The students took the preschoolers of Brickie Kidz Preschool in the high school to trick-or-treat. The preschoolers enjoyed the time dressed up in their costumes.

On November 1st, the criminal justice class had guest speaker Officer Roger Bowles visit the class. Officer Bowles is an officer with the Porter County Sheriff's Department and works as a crime scene technician. He has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 17 years now.

Part of his job is to find evidence at the crime scene and make castings of the evidence to help find a suspect. He discussed with the class past experiences he had and let the class do a casting of their own. Each student put their shoe print in impression foam and then made casting material. This gave students a hands-on experience that is useful when finding and duplicating evidence.

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What’s Coming Up?
Earlier this year, the seniors of the electronics class took a trip down to Purdue for a robotics contest. All of the seniors who went on the trip are in their second year, and they have a lot of knowledge about how robots work and how to make them work. When they got to the contest, they had an unlikely group of people who they would be competing against.

“When we got to Purdue, there was a group of seventh graders who didn’t have an adult sponsor,” Mr. Thormahlen, the electronics instructor, said. “These are second year students, and they were intimidated by a group of seventh graders”

Although they were a bit scared of how they would do, the electronics class was the only group at the competition who got their robot to function.

Each group that participated will go back to Purdue and update their projects to make sure they are still functioning. They also have to make a video or slideshow about their projects. With the help of the video productions class, the electronics class will be making a video about their robot. In the first week of December the class will be taking that trip.

The staff here encourages both males and females to pursue nontraditional occupations. For example, females in the auto-tech class or males in the cosmetology class. The video productions class will be doing a recruitment video for nontraditional occupations.

It is always exciting to see students stepping out of their comfort zones and following their passion rather than sticking to the status quo.

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Teacher Spotlight
This year, there are two new teachers in the building and one of them is Mr. Wester. Mr. Wester is the auto tech 1 instructor at the Career Center. Before he became an instructor here, he was an automotive technician for 29 years.

It is important that the instructors are experts in their field, and he is no doubt an expert with cars. He is an ASE Master Certified Tech, has a degree from Lincoln Technical Institute, and is currently working on earning his WS1 license so he can teach.

Mr. Wester has only been teaching since August, but you can already tell that he is passionate about teaching his students about what he loves to do. When he was in high school, he actually went to the Porter County Career Center’s Auto Tech class, but at the time it was located at the old Boone Grove High School.

Mr. Wester didn’t originally consider being an instructor, but it also was not something he didn’t think he could do.

“I have thought about it for several years. I have a good friend, Mr. Barnes, who is the auto tech instructor at Portage, and he had encouraged me to pursue this path.”

He really enjoys teaching and wants to share his passion with his students as well as working with other instructors.

“I hope to share my knowledge of the ever changing and advancing automotive field and help students prepare for their futures,” Mr Wester explained. “I enjoy seeing the students progress as they become more comfortable with the equipment & vehicle systems. I also enjoy working with my fellow instructors who all have been very supportive & helpful.”

Mr. Wester is becoming a great instructor and making a great experience for his auto tech students.

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Student Spotlight
It’s not very often that you see a female student in a generally male class such as building trades or auto tech. Madi Mayernik is one of three girls in the building trades class here. It is encouraging to see girls doing what you would typically see guys doing. Madi does not let her gender influence how she does her work.

“To be a female in the class is pretty fun. I get to show that girls can do what guys can do. It can be pretty intimidating because the guys can lift really heavy things and I can't.”

She is a student that is always working hard on whatever she is doing, no matter what task she is given to do.

“My favorite part of the class is getting to learn things that I didn't know and helping out the other students as much as I can,” Madi said.

Her hard work is not only noticed by her peers but by her teacher as well.

“She is an outstanding student. I can definitely see her pursuing a career in building trades,” her instructor said.

Madi’s main influence and inspiration is her father who also loves construction and building trades. She brings in the things she learns from him as well as the material she is taught in class to produce great work.

“[This class] has helped me by teaching me all the technical terms and little things about construction, where when I'm working with my father I learn small things a little at a time.”

Once Madi graduates from high school she plans on pursuing a career in construction. She is planning on attending Purdue Northwest. After graduating from college, she would like to work for her father’s company.

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