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Reed visits students in BOCES P-Tech program in Fredonia

FREDONIA – Students in the new P-Tech Program at the LoGuidice BOCES Center in Fredonia had a visit from U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, on Monday afternoon.

The new P-Tech program, which stands for Pathways in Technology, enrolled 30 students for the first time this fall. The students make a commitment to spending six years in the program and will graduate with a two-year college degree as well as a high school diploma. In addition to hearing from students, Reed met with instructors and administrators from BOCES and from Dunkirk High School.

Courses in the P-Tech program were designed based on the needs of local manufacturers. Katelyn Lawton, 13, is one of only two girls in the freshman group of students. She said her father, Henry Lawton, a manager at Dunkirk Metal, inspired her to join the program and learn skills such as welding taught by the P-Tech Academy.

She presented Reed with a shirt designed with the academy’s logo.

“We are gong to address the gender issue,” said Reed who noticed the lack of female students from the 18 school districts represented in the program.

He told Lawton that she is a leader and should be an inspiration to other students.

Erie II-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent David O’Rourke said that they have a long-term plan to keep the program viable into the future. Component school districts pay $19,000 to BOCES each year for tuition for students.

The P-Tech program has a broad-based acceptance program. Freshman can come from academically challenged backgrounds or have strong skills.

The courses are not designed for traditional college-bound students.

O’Rourke said that local manufacturers told the educators what type of skills are needed to enter their job market and the courses were modeled after those skill set needs.

Reed said he is passionate about programs that support American manufacturing. “I am 100 percent committed to this program. It is changing lives and encouraging people to stay in the area,” he said.

“Hats off to Dunkirk schools for taking the initiative for this,” said Reed. The next hurdle is a public referendum Oct. 6 in Dunkirk when voters can decide if former elementary school No. 6 can be converted into the P-Tech academy for the area.

The reconstruction of the vacant building would be through state and BOCES funds.

The academy could house a maximum of 240 students in various stages of the six-year program.

The P-Tech program is a cooperative effort by BOCES, component school districts, Jamestown Community College and manufacturers in Chautauqua County.