More than 60 high school seniors arrived at the Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy on Wednesday night and they all left with post-graduation employment plans.
The second annual West Alabama Regional Signing Day, organized by West Alabama Works, saluted the students as they officially signed up for jobs or career technical education apprenticeships after high school graduation.
Employers like Mercedes-Benz US International, BFGoodrich, DCH Health System, Carroll’s Creek Fire Protection District and more provided the career opportunities.
“We’re so excited to be able to celebrate our student’s success,” said Donny Jones, who serves as the West Alabama Works executive director and chief operating officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
The Signing Day event originated in 2019, but was canceled in 2020 and 2021.
“Due to COVID-19 and taking COVID precautions over the past few years, it feels great to bring this event back. (Signing Day is) designed to bring awareness of student success through apprenticeships, career pathways and internships,” Jones said.
A total of 14 schools within six West Alabama school systems were represented during Wednesday’s ceremony. Students from Tuscaloosa City, Tuscaloosa County, Greene, Bibb, Hale, and Fayette counties were among those honored one-by-one as they signed on the dotted line for apprenticeships or full-time jobs.
These high school seniors will begin their new journeys this summer, shortly after receiving their diplomas from their respective schools.
Some of the students earned their job or apprenticeship offers through WOW 2.0, an event for high school seniors held in April at Shelton State Community College. WOW 2.0 is a continuation of West Alabama Works’ annual Worlds of Work (WOW) event for eighth-graders. Both events are designed to help West Alabama students learn more about career opportunities in the region.
Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria said he believes it’s vital for every student to have a plan for when they finish high school.
“We evaluate our work by making sure all of our students have a verified plan before they walk across the stage (for graduation). And the employers who are here today, who are hiring our students directly, they’re a big part of that. puzzle, “he said.
“We can’t be more proud to sign our students on to these incredible business and industries right here in town. And our students, they walk across our graduation stage and go right to work or right into an apprenticeship. That’s a win,” Daria said. .
After the ceremony, students and parents were able to meet with representatives from their future employers.
Amera Swain, 17, a Talladega High School senior, accepted an apprenticeship with MBUSI and said she’s excited to begin working with the company after graduating on May 26. Swain’s mom is also employed with the automotive company, which Swain said played a large role in her decision.
“Me and my mom have been talking about it for the longest …” Swain said.
Jones said he believes the West Alabama Regional Signing Day serves an important purpose by making high schools students and their parents become more aware about all the possible career opportunities available right here in the area.
“I think the more things we do like this, (it’s) is going to help parents really see ‘Well, my student doesn’t have to go through the traditional … four-year degree,’ which is good. We need As many students as we can to do that. But it really helps them open their eyes to all these other great jobs, “Jones said.
Reach Jasmine Hollie at [email protected]