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Geneseo High School breaks ground on $4M vocational center

The over 10,000 sq. ft. facility is planned to host classes starting in Fall 2023.

GENESEO, Ill. — The Geneseo School District is breaking ground on a new $4 million vocational facility.

The new Career and Technical Education Center is aimed at preparing students for today's job market.

"1 in 4 of our kids don't go on to a four-year college," Geneseo School District Superintendent Adam Brumbaugh said. "We need to make sure that we're providing opportunities for them to have the vocation of their desire."

The facility will be over 10,000 sq. ft. in size and feature trade classes in metalcraft, woodwork, auto, HVAC and more.

"The biggest thing that I see is just more opportunities for students and their learning on a daily basis in the trades," Geneseo High School teacher Kyle Bess said.

RELATED: PV student signs on to apprenticeship at Boyler's Ornamental Iron in Bettendorf

Bess said the new facility will give students more opportunities for hands-on learning.

"When they step into the shop, they get to see the why of math - they get to apply it on a daily basis," Bess added. "They get to work with materials that we talked about in our chemistry classes here. When they step onto a welder, they're actually using and working with chemistry, so they definitely get the hands-on experience they crave."

For students like Benjamin Helm, it's that kind of practical learning that changed his life.

"Before I moved here to Geneseo, I was lost," Helm said. "I didn't really have a passion, didn't want to do anything really. I came over here and took some shop classes, kind of got straightened out a little bit and grew up. And I found what I love doing."

With the new facility, the school district is working on new ways to prepare students for the workforce.

"We want to get our kids out through internships and co-op opportunities in our local businesses so they get that experience while they're in high school," Superintendent Brumbaugh said. "So when they graduate, they're work-eligible right away."

By combining coursework at the technical center and apprenticeship, the school is planning to offer Career Pathway Endorsements through the Illinois State Board of Education.

"If a kid completes a certain track while here at high school and get those job experiences, they'll receive an endorsement on their transcript," Brumbaugh explained. "That lets employers know 'hey, these kids are ready,' and they're hopefully going to give them a chance through an interview - but even better, a job - their first job."

Over $1.5 million has already been donated from local foundations to fund construction efforts, and the school district says the project should cause no increase in local taxes.

Construction is set to begin Monday, Oct. 10, and the school hopes to begin classes in the facility in Fall 2023.

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