Main Street building being transformed

Renovation work continues at the former Tekamah Motors building, turning the structure into a career education center for Tekamah-Herman Schools.

With the Tekamah-Herman school board’s purchase of the former Tekamah Motors building, opportunities for students at Tekamah-Herman High School arise as the trades and agriculture programs plan to adopt the building as a centralized space for classrooms and hands-on learning.

Superintendent Dan Gross emphasized that the school needed this new building since career-oriented learning impacts students and their ability to give back to the community.

“We are lucky to be a school our size to have classes that will impact the local economy and state economy we represent,” he said.”

Also, the movement of classes out of the main building will open spaces for the art and music departments to expand. The projected date of move-in is Dec. 30, 2020.

Not only is administration satisfied with the addition, but teachers also reflect excitement as they will receive larger work spaces and classrooms. School staff were asked to provide input in the layout of the new building in order to allow maximum usage of space and time.

Mr. Graig McElmuray, THS’s welding and auto mechanics instructor, elaborated on the potential of the trade program’s growth. He said as the current building has been “in a state of disrepair,” the school board had to seriously consider solutions to the less-than-ideal work conditions, including the possibility of dropping the trades program altogether.

However, since many graduates of skilled trade programs return to their communities to find for work in those areas, the school decided to bolster support for these courses of life-relevant learning.

The welding program is expanding with an impressive count of 30 students enrolled.

“A new building breeds new life and excitement… giving us an opportunity to continue to expand on what we do well already,” McElmuray said.

In addition to a new environment for skills training, the agriculture classroom will also benefit from the acquired space.

Ag instructor and FFA sponsor Miss Haley Zabel explained that the new building “gives us an area to spread out and show our individuality.”

The medals, trophies, samples, donations, animal science models, and growing towers provide students the opportunity not only to showcase their hard work, but to also create an atmosphere where hands-on learning can exist.

One small part of the interactive classroom includes the growing towers which can house seedlings that can eventually yield produce such as lettuce and strawberries. With this being her third major transition as a starting teacher, Zabel takes it all in stride, as everyone understands that a small inconvenience in the beginning will lead to greater possibilities in the future.

The construction of a career education facility within the city touches the lives of students, even as they leave Tekamah and pursue careers and further education. Makayla Williams, the director of early college at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, explained how the college provides students with the tools to success. She said a facility like this helps the school encourage hands-on learning to gain real-world knowledge to utilize in the work force.

According to the “Graduate Report of 2018,” this system of education produced positive results, as 99 percent of 2018’s graduating class reported that they currently hold work positions or are continuing their education. More specifically, 58 percent of those graduates found employment in Nebraska.

Williams continued to explain how Northeast values the career and technical programs that provides students with opportunities that equip them with work experience, such as internships in “types of jobs [that] are very much needed and appreciated.”

However, these statistics may not seem as surprising after hearing the number of students in Tekamah who have enrolled as dual-credit participants this semester. Local teens have realized the potential of pursuing college classes in high school. In fact, the records of Tekamah-Herman’s guidance counselor, Nishja Nuss, show thirty students have enrolled in at least one semester of dual-credit. Some of these classes include Workplace Communications and Technical Math which provide students the skills needed in technical workspaces and almost every career.

Since coordinating with Northeast Community College for at least ten years, the program has not only impacted Nebraskan students, but also Tekamah’s community as the trades building constructs opportunities for young adults.

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