By Judy Savage
New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools
County vocational-technical school leaders from throughout the state joined excited students and their parents, and many state and local officials to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the new Cumberland County Technical Education Center (CCTEC) in Vineland on September 8.
Classes begin at the new four-year, full-time high school on Monday, September 12.
The first freshman class includes 241 students in 12 different career and technical education programs, including new engineering and broadcasting majors. In each of the next three years, a new cohort of full-time freshman students will be added. Adult education programs will be offered, too.
The ribbon-cutting celebration was the culmination of more than 15 years of effort on the part of many Cumberland officials to establish a full-time career and technical education (CTE) high school in the county. Until this year, Cumberland was the only all shared-time county vocational-technical school district in the state.
In designing the school, CCTEC Superintendent Dr. Dina Elliott was committed to incorporating the best thinking about 21st century career and technical education from New Jersey’s other county vocational-technical school districts. She and her staff spent more than a year traveling around the state, asking questions and gathering ideas.
Her colleagues from the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools were impressed with the result:
A gleaming new school replete with state-of-the-art technology for academic and career programs including allied health sciences, sports medicine, digital graphics, dental technology, construction trades, pharmacy technology, culinary arts, cosmetology, law enforcement and homeland security, welding, automotive technology, engineering, studio production and broadcasting.
For New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a strong supporter of career and technical education who represents Cumberland County in the state Legislature, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a very proud moment.
In 2014, he and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto agreed that investing in CTE should be one of New Jersey’s priorities, and they sponsored a number of new laws that expanded career and technical education opportunities throughout the state.
“This type of investment is so critical to the economy and the workforce in this region,” Senator Sweeney said at the ceremony. “There are many jobs that go unfilled because we don’t have the people that are trained.
“And we are also providing the other avenue for children that excel in school and will have the opportunity to learn at their speed and go on to college and earn college credits. Its a good feeling, isn’t it?” he said.
Senator Jeff Van Drew, who also represents Cumberland in the Legislature, agreed.
“Whatever the area is, we need to get all our young people trained,” he said. “The world is changing. It’s a new world, a different world, and we have to compete.”
The new school building, located adjacent to the campus of Cumberland County College, was a project undertaken by the Cumberland County Improvement Authority as part of an economic development initiative to attract new businesses to the region and boost employment opportunities for the county residents.
Other special guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony included State Board of Education President Mark Biedron, a strong supporter of career and technical education, and current and former members of the Cumberland County Board of Freeholders, the Cumberland County Board of Vocational Education and the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, whose hard work over many years was instrumental in bringing the dream of a new school to a reality.