By Anna DeWine
XENIA — When students start counting down the end of summer, it is a telltale sign that the school is doing something right.
Mason Duffey, a Bellbrook senior at the Greene County Career Center (GCCC), couldn’t wait to get back to school to work on his ‘78 Datsun.
“I missed school over the summer. I’m really happy to be back here,” Duffey said, between his morning classes and his afternoon lab.
A student in the Auto Collision Repair program, Duffey already knows what four-year college he will attend in the fall. And thanks to the career center, he’s already getting a head start on his dream of restoring classic automobiles.
“This place is different because I come here and get to do something that really interests me,” Duffey said. “Other schools teach you how to take a test well, but here I learn how to get a job and how to keep a job.”
David Deskins, in his third year as GCCC Superintendent, agrees with Duffey that his students are already a head-start above their peers. When students graduate, he noted, they leave positioned with skills and trades that they take directly into the workforce or into higher education. Around sixty percent of graduates choose to move onto additional schooling, whether that means a two-year college, a four-year college, or an accredited apprenticeship.
The superintendent, like Duffey, had a good first day of school. “This was the most exciting start of a school year that I’ve been a part of,” Deskins said. “Kids are so excited to be here, and very exciting things are happening.”
One exciting aspect to the new school year is its growth in enrollment. “When I arrived in 2014, it was our first area of focus — finding strategies to retain students and encourage kids to come here,” Deskins said.
As of Thursday, the main high school campus reached its largest enrollment number in 10 years at 660 students.
Enrollment is one high of the week but many more projects are in the works, including a look into a future aerospace program.
As for current programming, programs like criminal justice, culinary arts, and digital media have become so popular they have their own wait lists. A recent addition to campus includes a new television production studio for the digital media program, complete with a sleek news desk, an infinity green screen wall, and a behind-the-scenes control room.
As Deskins put it, “We want our kids to have the cutting edge advantage.”