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Grand River Tech Hosts Annual Advisory Meetings and Banquet
November 17, 2010

Grand River Technical School hosted its annual Advisory meetings and banquet on November 17 with over 120 in attendance.

Each program at Grand River Tech has its own advisory committee made up of industry personnel, parents, and current and former student representatives. The advisory committees also rely on input from our higher education representatives and Chillicothe School Board members. Each committee meets annually for a formal meeting and banquet recognition, but are crucial to our programs all through the year. Many program improvements have been made over the years, and concerns addressed through input from these committees. A typical advisory meeting will address GRTS mission and goals evaluation, equipment needs and updates, curriculum review and evaluation, placement information and discussion, student performance discussion, budget needs and concerns, long term goals and other general program evaluation.

CAPTION: Ms. Debby Peery, Counselor at GRTS, speaks with her advisory committee. Twelve counselors from area sending schools attended as well as administrators, student services staff, and special guests Kristi Weldon, Director of Advisement, from North Central MO College and Charlene Piel, Career Education Coordinator for Northwest MO.

Following the individual committee meetings, the group met for the banquet and presentations. Roger Wolf, Co-Director, introduced new staff and the school board members present and gave a short presentation on the impact the Agriculture department's move to the new Litton Agri-Science Learning Center has had on the main GRTS campus. He explained how the move created much needed space for existing programs which have shown tremendous growth in enrollment since the original building was built, and especially in recent years. With an overall 11% growth in enrollment, space was a crucial issue facing Grand River Tech. The move resulted in a much larger shop for the ever expanding Welding program, a much larger classroom necessary to accommodate the Collision Technology classes and lighted paint room where before it was literally a closet. The Industrial Maintenance program now has its own lab and classroom space; and the Auto Tech program was able to expand some shop space. The Diesel shop (a program made up exclusively of adult students) received a makeover and better division from high school students in a nearby shop. The Building Trades department was able to add a small office for record keeping and other administrative tasks necessary for the building of the house each year. The Career Independence program was able to move their classroom closer to their workspace in the breakroom; and finally, a move by the Healh Services Technology classes which was sharing space with the ITV classroom allowed the EMT/Paramedics to finally have a classroom to call their own!

Following Mr. Wolf, Marla Harrington, Financial Aid Coordinator, spoke on the impact area sending school students and adult students have on Grand River Technical School in addition to the many CHS students that attend. She pointed out that despite troubled times financially for many of our 15 area sending schools, enrollment from those schools was up 20% this year. This speaks for the quality of the GRTS programs, the caring staff, the successes of former students who are now working in their fields of study, the support of the counselors and administration of the area schools, and the personal interest in which GRTS staff take in their students.

Adult enrollment increased 14% as well this year, in part due to economic trends as well as continual recruiting efforts by staff and testimonials from former students. Another factor influencing Grand River Tech's adult enrollment, is the financial aid offerings for adult students, making GRTS unique to many vocational technical schools in the area. Grand River Tech chose to pursue NCA Accreditation, when other schools opted out, and are therefore, able to offer Federal financial aid to their adult students - to the tune of over $300,000 this year. Added to the $200,000 plus awarded in other state and local financial aid, GRTS adult students will receive over a half million dollars in financial aid this school year to help with their tuition costs. Schools that opted out of NCA Accreditation are not able to offer Federal financial aid, and are therefore serving few, if any adults. Grand River Tech adult students generate over $500,000 in tuition revenue for the Chillicothe school district, and are a vital piece to the success of the school.

However, Grand River considers all students as partners in their success. One third of those adult students stayed in the Chillicothe area to work in their chosen fields; and consistently, overall, 95% of all GRTS graduates go on to continue their education at a higher level or are successful at securing a job in their chosen field. "And that's what it's all about", says Ms. Harrington.

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