Bellefonte, Bald Eagle and Penns Valley district leaders visit CPI for dinner, update

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology culinary students did their best to put board members from three Centre County schools districts in a food coma before breaking into separate meetings on Wednesday night.

CPI administration invited Bald Eagle, Bellefonte and Penns Valley area school district officials to an annual joint board dinner prepared by students in the culinary arts.

Penns Valley board member Victoria Brennan joked and said the food was so good and there was so much, she wouldn’t be able to think properly during a meeting the district had afterward.

Bellefonte board member George Stone added that the annual joint dinner is something CPI does a good job of hosting.

“Really, the food was so good you’re sometimes surprised it comes from high school kids,” Stone said. “It was nice to get that interaction with some of the students.”

CPI President Richard Makin said the menu included the same meals culinary arts students had to prepare for the National Occupational Competency Testing — a standardized test used at technical schools.

David Van Buskirk, director of business and development, said it was the first time in three years that the three districts were able to congregate at the dinner that included announcements about a new program at CPI, and a questions and answer session with students.

Makin said he’s waiting on the final word from the state about the institution being certified to provide a two-year associate degree program. He said this is the last step in a process that took several years, and should get the OK within the month.

In August, CPI underwent a state evaluation, which administrators said went well.

CPI is a trade school that provides alternative education to high school students in Centre County and provides adult, night and online classes open to the public. The school currently issues diplomas and certifications for students who complete any of its 20 career programs, and is owned by the Bald Eagle, Bellefonte and Penns Valley area school districts.

CPI student ambassadors Dillon Ault and Matt Seyler, both Bellefonte seniors in the diesel repair technician program, said they plan to attend college after graduation.

“It’s just a common misconception that you can’t also attend college afterward,” Seyler said. “We wanted to clear up some of those myths people have about technical schools.”

Seyler said he plans to attend Universal Technical Institute next fall to get his degree.

They also voiced student concerns that Makin said he would “take into consideration” with the help of the district boards.

Ault said it would be in students’ best interest to offer full day programs at CPI. Seyler agreed.

“It could put you on the fast track and let you hone in on your studies all day,” Seyler said.

Ault and Seyler attend Bellefonte Area High School from about 8 a.m. to noon, and then study at CPI from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., during weekdays.