CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A vocational school teaches students the skills needed to perform a particular job. These schools are devoted to training for a specific occupation instead of a general liberal arts education.
The Fayette Institute of Technology in Oak Hill offers classes in automotive work, child development, culinary arts, forestry, nursing and more. Interested juniors and seniors from Valley, Fayetteville, Meadow Bridge, Midland Trail and Oak Hill high schools take classes there.
"I took vocational schooling because it was a free college class that I could use to better myself and my future," said Valley senior Deianeira Parker, who is enrolled in the child development program. "At FIT, they treat us like adults and actually send us out in the field to do hands-on work. It gives us a better idea of what to expect when we get out of high school.
"I am very proud that I picked vocational," she added. "It has been an experience that nothing else could have given me. I've met new people and learned many things!"
Valley senior Christian Lavender, who is in the automotive program, said, "I felt that going to vo-tech would better prepare me for the workforce by letting me concentrate on the field I would like to be a part of instead of every subject under the sun that I don't need for my future job choice.
"I felt that I would be helped more to better my education, and I felt that I would be treated more fairly in opportunities to get me where I want to be later in life," he continued. "Not to mention that they treat me with more respect as a human being and not just as another student."
Valley junior Kayla Snyder is also in the child development program. She chose to go to vocational school because she loves working with children.
"I want to become a nurse, and it helps me for when I go off to college and graduate," she said. "I can learn more about kids to know them and for when I work with them.
"To be honest, I absolutely love it and would stay up there all day if I could," she added. "It's interesting, and I love it. I wouldn't trade going up there for regular school."
Snyder also addressed the fact that some people consider vocational school as something students do because they're not smart.
"It's not for 'dumb' people," she said. "I may not be the brightest crayon in the box of 100, but I do know that one day I will achieve my goal and be a nurse with the help of the class I'm taking and by having faith and believing I can do it!"
Like Parker, Lavender and Snyder, Valley junior Chris Queen believes that choosing vocational school is one of the best decisions he's made in his school career.
"I chose vocational school to actually get an education that would further my work as a chef," he said. "Valley doesn't offer anything that would have helped me."I'm very glad I made the decision to go to vocational school instead of regular."