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Community celebrates new career & tech center

Photo by Ritt Mortimer

SALYERSVILLE – After a few years in the works, the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new Magoffin County Career and Technical Center was held last Wednesday, celebrating the building’s completion and allowing the public to tour everything the new addition has to offer for Magoffin County students.

Among many who were asked to speak at the event, Scotty B. Patrick, stood out, having graciously donated $5 million to the project, which made the school district able to apply for other matching funds that all came together to fund the whole project.

Magoffin County High School Principal Brian Conley said, “On behalf of the faculty and staff and our students, I’d like to welcome our distinguished guests to Magoffin County High School for our new Magoffin County Career and Technical Center ribbon cutting ceremony. I’d like to give special recognition to our governor, Mr. Andy Beshear, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to join us on this special occasion. Thank you so much. I’d also like to thank another special guest, Mr. Scotty B. Patrick, for being here. Mr. Patrick, thank you for your invaluable contribution to our new career and tech center. It means so much to us and we’re forever grateful.”

Conley continued, “We have a new addition on campus that’s going to pay immeasurable dividends for many of you as you pursue career pathways. I’ll quickly add that in just a few weeks, you all will be completing course requests for nexxt year and I hope that what you will see over there this spring will either revive some old interest that maybe had waned, or will spark a new pursuit for you. The first message anyone will see in our new wing reads, ‘Your career starts here.’ And it does, and we want that to become a reality for each of you.”

Superintendent Chris Meadows described to the crowd of staff and students, as well as many local officials, how the project began.

“As many of you recall, the new high school – we still call it the ‘new high school’ but it’s been here eight years now – opened in August 2016. Of course, the career and tech center was over in the old building beside the middle school. Probably the second or third day of the school year, I was the principal here and Ms. Kazee, one of the school counselors, we were standing out back, loading those buses to send them over to the career and tech center. So, we loaded two buses and sent the morning group out, and as those buses pulled away, Ms. Kazee looked at me and said, ‘I wish they could stay here. They need to be here.’ While that statement was true, it seemed unachievable at the time, because let’s face it, we had just walked into a new multi-million dollar high school. New buildings don’t happen every day or even every year, so we could not fathom at that point in time that this could be possible.”

Then, Superintendent Meadows jumped forward five years, to 2021, remembering, “We were trying to come out of all that COVID phase. I had actually transitioned from principal here to a central office position and Mr. Scotty B. Patrick mentions to one of his board members, Mr. Jesse Rudd, who is also one of our school board members, that he would like to do something that would have a lasting impact for our county. In this conversation, a new career and tech center was suggested, and after a few meetings with then-Superintendent Scott Helton, who is here today, and I had the privilege to sit along and just listen to these meetings. Not long after that suggestion, we had a large donation pledged by Mr. Patrick. Then, not too long after that, the district was able to apply for a grant from the SFCC – the School Facilities Construction Commission, and that October of the same year, Governor Beshear shows up at the old building with one of those humongous cardboard checks to fill in the gap, and now here we are, owing no debt on that career and tech project. No debt. No financial debt, that is. We do owe a huge debt of gratitude for people willing to dream. We owe a debt of gratitude for people willing to contribute. We owe a debt of gratitude for a people willing to work together. Henry Ford is credited for saying, ‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’ You see, we are stronger together, and what you see today, what we’re here to celebrate is a picture of the good that can happen when people choose to work together, because ‘working together is success.’”

Superintendent Meadows introduced Patrick, describing him as someone who has “always been a friend to all Magoffin Countians,” a life-long resident of Magoffin County, the founder and president of the Magoffin County Community Foundation, chairman the board at Salyersville National Bank, and “one of the most giving individuals you’ll ever meet.”

Mr. Patrick addressed the students in attendance at the event, “If you’re like me when I was a high school student, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I did know that I was going to continue my education, but what I was going to be was a mystery. Picking a field of study was an agonizing process. I could study medicine, which is very noble field, but all that blood turned me off. I liked chemistry and was good at it, but still, chemistry – ew. Now, chemistry is also a great profession, because almost everything we live and breathe and use comes from chemistry. Then I learned about a profession called chemical engineering and it seemed to me I was pretty good at math and pretty good at chemistry, maybe I could melt them together and become a chemical engineer, and that’s what I did. Chemical engineering is the study of how you take chemicals and make them into something very, very useful. You can make cell phones from products coming from chemistry, paint, rubber tires, gasoline, on and on and on. It’s all about chemistry. I was really good at chemical engineering and spent 40 years in the field, and as a result of processing that trade, I led a pretty good life and I’m glad I can give back to Magoffin County.”

Patrick asked the students to utilize the new opportunities available at the career and tech center as they consider their futures, stating, “Now, you are in the very early stages of your education. Surely you’ve spent 9 to 12 years in learning how to read math, communicate and learn something about the world around you, but your learning, if you’re lucky, will continue for the next 50 years. That learning should be focused on making yourself valuable to someone in business, to an activity, or even public service – as our governor has. Or you could even start a business yourself, but it take study and talent and work to be good at business. That learning is more specific, rather than the general, but how can you make yourself valuable to your employer. Even though you have a dedicated field of endeavor, I would encourage you to try one of the programs that’s going to be in this building next door and see if you could be good at it. Even if you don’t choose that as a primary profession, because you’ll learn something about working with others and teamwork and all that. This will help you to be successful in your future life no matter what you do. With that I wish all of you Godspeed and bless you all.”

Governor Andy Beshear said, “It’s really exciting to be here today with the regional champions and Sweet 16 participant, Magoffin County High School. And thanks to Candyce, Sophie, Erin and Riley, I now know you all sing as good as you play basketball, and that is really impressive. I think back to October 2021, being able to be here to provide about $4.3 million to make this career and technical center a reality and I’m so excited to be back today. While I appreciate this, let me tell you that you deserve it, and this community deserves it. This is all about trying to provide the best future, the best opportunity for each and every one of our students that we can. I’m not just governor – I’m the dad of a ninth grader and an eighth grader. What we all want is for you to pick your path. That’s not our job, but to give you every tool that we can to help you achieve. We are thrilled to be here today to cut the ribbon. We love the facility and we love building things, but we really love the investment in you and all I ask that you take advantage of it. You’re taking advantage of it in thinking about what your path could be and, let me tell you, there’s dignity in every single one of those paths. We need more nurses. We need more welders. We need more folks who can work in robotics. For everything that’s out there, there’s something for everyone, regardless of what you’re looking at. With good wages and good benefits, and not just waiting around the corner, the jobs are waiting to be filled today.”

Governor Beshear also talked about the progress being made in Magoffin County, stating, “I was just talking to Judge Wireman and he was telling me they’re coming right here to Magoffin County. As that four-lane Mountain Parkway continues, you’re going to see new industry faster than just about anywhere else. They’re going to come in and they’re going to look at that road, they’re going to look at the investments you’ve done and they’re going to look at this CTE, and that is why they’re going to ultimately locate here. All of our educators, all of our students, everyone here in Magoffin County, my goodness, congratulations. As we move forward, I hope in the coming years in Frankfort we can make a couple other changes. I hope we can continue to fund programs like this, which may not be in the current budget. I hope that we can finally get universal pre-K paths so that every single child is Kindergarten-ready and everyone gets the benefit that the fortunate right now can get. And I hope that we can continue to invest in Eastern Kentucky in meaningful ways to make sure you see just as many jobs and just as many opportunities as every other part of this state. So, today, congratulations to the Magoffin County Career and Tech Center, and a huge thank you to Scotty Patrick, not only for stepping up and making this happen, but for making that application to the state to meet that unmet need that much more attractive.”

They had a ceremonial ribbon cutting and then toured the new facility.

“I’m amazed at what I see here,” Scotty B. Patrick said during the tour. “You know whenever you talk about career and technical center, you have various things in your mind about what it’s like, and then going through this facility and seeing all the modern equipment, tools the kids will have to learn different professions, it’s just amazing. This is as good as I’ve seen anywhere.”

Collista Allen, who teaches health science, explained to the tour group they have technology utilizing interactive case studies, allowing the students to get hands-on experience with clinical and lab preparation, and it’s a dual credit course. She said they’re trying to get pharmacy tech classes going there, as well, for more opportunities. She showed Patrick a mannequin with lungs and a heart that can be heard through a stethoscope, catheters, wound care, tube feeding, etc., to give students more experience.

Patrick talked to each instructor at the new facility, and was impressed with what he saw in each of them.

“You could see a glow in their eyes because they’ve got something to work with, and the students were very proud,” Patrick told Mortimer Media Group. “This one student had welded this animal. I said, ‘did you do that,’ and he said, ‘yes.’ He’s an aspiring welder and I think he’s off to a very great start.”

The whole project started with a simple question from Patrick of “What can we do? What can we do to benefit for the kids of this community for generations?”

After checking out each offering at the new career and tech center, Patrick said there was no comparison between the end result and his initial vision.

“I had visions of carpentry and a couple of other things, but when you look at the health area, the welding area, criminology area – these are areas you don’t normally think of in this kind of program, especially in the health area where they have a visual of all the organs in the body and what you can learn visually on almost any part of the body. That’s amazing.”

Very few people will ever find themselves in the position to be able to and to be so willing to give back to their home community like Scotty B. Patrick has for the last 20 years through the Magoffin Community Foundation, starting from the meager beginnings of Community Day and growing to what it has, to now, this gift to all of this community, it was not lost on him.

Patrick also remembered Wayne Jenkins, a former Community Foundation board member and electricity teacher, who like Scotty, always wanted more for the students.

“It was 2002 when we first formed the Magoffin Community Foundation and we had a meeting in the old bank building and I told the crowd we’re going to organize a community foundation and I’m going to need a lot of volunteers. Of course, we get some volunteers, and Wayne was one of them. When we had our first meeting, he said, ‘I want you to know, I’m here to help the students of Magoffin County.’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He said, Well, all the scholarship programs tend to favor the people in the top 5% of their class, and they’re probably going to get scholarships, and I want to be sure people at all levels have s chance to get scholarships,’ so he was very helpful in designing a program so that we would pull in at a level that more students could participate in the program. We set the limit at the top third of the class. That doesn’t mean that those in the top third of the class are better than everybody else, but they got a pretty good chance at being successful and they probably don’t have the finances that maybe the top 5% get, so he was very critical in helping with that. So, when talked about the center and who was going to be honored for it, I said I got one man, Wayne Jenkins, and fortunately, the school board went along with it, and I think we got the right man.”

When asked what’s next, Patrick had no problem looking to the future.

“We’re not done, yet,” Patrick laughed. “So, stay tuned.

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