It was a special year for graduates at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology.
School President Richard Makin said that 98 percent of the class tested advanced or competent on the annual NOCTI exam this year that evaluates job readiness for students in technical schools.
“It’s really been a great year,” Makin said. “The students exceeded our expectations, but at the same time we know how capable they are.”
Most years, only about 90 percent test advanced or competent, Makin said.
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CPI is an alternate education school that teaches on-the-job training.
This year’s graduates were from Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and State College area school districts.
Number of graduates: 92 students graduated from 18 programs.
Where: Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology cafeteria.
Colors: Black gowns with black tassels hanging from the zipper of the gown. A gold 2015 pin also dangled from the tassel.
Outstanding student: CPI did not have a valedictorian, but they did honor an “outstanding student” with an award. This year’s “outstanding student” was Matt Seyler, of Bellefonte Area School District, who studied diesel equipment maintenance and repair technology.
Music: The graduates walked to their assigned seats before walking the stage, to Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.”
Class speaker: Coleton Harter, of Penns Valley Area School District, got his certificate in heavy equipment operation technology. He was president of the National Technical Honor Society and the class speaker at Thursday night’s graduation.
He reminded his peers to be proud of their accomplishments, and quoted Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Words of advice: Coy Lutz, of the Bald Eagle Area School District, studied precision machine technology, but will also be headed to the University of Tennessee at Martin to study agriculture business.
He will be attending college on a full scholarship to be on the rodeo team, but said he couldn’t get there without a lot of hard work.
“I guess I’d tell all the underclassmen to work hard and not to slack, because it’s worth it in the long run,” Lutz said. “You do all your work and you can do anything, and (CPI) allows you to do that by learning real-world stuff.”
A memory: Taylor McCauley, of Bellefonte Area School District, was a student at CPI for three years, and was a part of the Dental Assisting program.
McCauley has a job already lined up with the Clinton County Community Dental Clinic in Mill Hall, and said the program prepared her for the real world by practicing situations she would find in the workforce.
But among all the hard work, there was still a lot of fun to be had.
“I’ll miss the syringe water fights,” she said with a laugh. “Miss (Mindi) Tobias probably doesn’t know that, but we would have these water fights sometimes. It was pretty fun.”
What they’ll miss: For Sara Boyles, of the Bellefonte Area School District, she said she will miss her friends from the dental assisting program.
There were six students who graduated from the Dental Assisting program, who Boyles said are all good friends.
“I wouldn’t give up anything for this,” she said.
Boyles also said she would miss Tobias, her teacher.
“She was awesome and pushed us a lot to be the best we could be,” Boyles said. “You listen to an instructor like that and it will help you succeed.”
How they felt: Shannon Brown, of the Bellefonte Area School District, studied dental assisting, and said the tears she shed Thursday were “happy tears.”
“It is a bitter-sweet moment,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be moving on, but a little scary at the same time. I’m just proud of what we accomplished and ready for what’s next.”
Brown will be headed to the Fortis Institute in Erie to study dental hygiene.