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Pathways Camps fun, eye-opening for participants

Randolph Community College, Asheboro City Schools, and the Randolph County School System partnered to bring together three Pathways Camps — AMP Camp, HIP Camp, and APP Camp — at the end of June. Students and teachers participating in the AMP Camp were treated to a welding exercise (above).
Randolph Community College, Asheboro City Schools, and the Randolph County School System partnered to bring together three Pathways Camps — AMP Camp, HIP Camp, and APP Camp — at the end of June. Students and teachers participating in the AMP Camp were treated to a welding exercise (above).

Local students, teachers get hands-on with Advanced Manufacturing, Health Industry, and Agricultural Production

ASHEBORO — During the last two weeks of June, Randolph County teachers and students braved welding sparks, learned how to put on a neck brace, and hung out with alpacas. The learning experiences — and the fun — were all part of three Pathways Camps put on by Randolph Community College, the Randolph County School System, and the Asheboro City Schools.

The second AMP (Advanced Manufacturing Pathway) Camp, and the inaugural HIP (Health Industry Pathway) and APP (Agricultural Production Pathway) camps had students visit industry-specific local businesses and participate in classroom learning labs designed to provide real-world experiences, while the teachers got to experience classroom learning labs designed to introduce them to real-world projects. All were immersed in the industry while learning about specific careers with teachers learning how to guide students in developing skills to ensure success in those specific fields.

The camps were free for current ACS and RCSS seventh- and eighth-graders, and local teachers.

HIP campers compete in a Body Parts Relay on the RCC Asheboro Campus.
The AMP Camp attendees made a game modeled after the classic Operation, designing and cutting it Monday, welding it Tuesday, and assembling and wiring it Wednesday with finishing touches Thursday. They also toured several local industries — Elastic Therapy Inc., Sapona Plastics, Energizer, and Timken, and toured the Computer-Integrated Machining, Welding, Manufacturing Technology, Mechatronics Engineering Technology, Electrical Systems Technology programs at RCC.

North Asheboro Middle School student Jean Brou and rising Wheatmore High School freshman Sergio Garcia dutifully donned protective masks while watching a fellow camper weld his box together.

“Next, we’re going to put circuit, screws, and things inside it and program it so it makes noise,” Brou said.

“It’s fun,” Garcia added.

RCC Welding Department Head Michael Ford was pleased to see all 12 students take part in the welding portion of the project, including three girls — two of whom were going to be in their high school welding programs.

“Only two did it last year that wanted to, but this time everybody wanted to weld,” he said. “It’s kind of a scary thing. I had them running some beads on plates to get a feel for it, and then we did some tack welds, which is how we put the [boxes] together. Then we showed them how the jig worked that we built to make it go faster. They did a really good job.

“The kids usually do a better job than the teachers, but what [teachers are] looking for is more of things they can use from this to teach in the classroom to prepare a student to come here — what kind of math does a welding student need to know.”

Emergency Medical Technicians show HIP campers how they save lives on a rescue mannequin.
In HIP Camp, attendees visited Randolph Health Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, learned about Health & Sports Performance Training at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, toured Randolph County Emergency Services and MERCE Integrated Care, and had a tour and sensitivity training at the Adult Center.

They also participated in activities with an occupational therapist and Emergency Medical Services technicians, learned about communicable diseases, and competed in a Body Parts Relay, seeing which team most accurately represented both the parts and their location in the body.
South Asheboro Middle School student and rising Asheboro High School freshman Thalya Letterlough volunteered to be a guinea pig, having her campmates learn how to put a splint on her “broken” leg.

“My mom’s a phlebotomist, so health is always something I’ve been interested in,” she said. “My sister choked on tape once and we had to make a call. While we were on the phone, we got it out. I wish I could have had the background to do it myself. I also want to be a 911 dispatcher or work on preventing diseases. There are so many things I’m interested in.”

Southeastern Randolph Middle School teacher Alyson McNamara and SAMS teacher Kirsten Toscano, both Exceptional Children instructors, not only enjoyed the camp, but touring the RCC campus.

“My favorite thing was the tour of RCC,” McNamara said. “I’m in the process of having all 199 of my eighth-graders come tour in the fall because of this. I want them to know what opportunities are here — in all fields. There are jobs for everybody.

“The camp was great because every 30-40 minutes we’re doing something different and we’re learning what’s local.”

“I want to take back to my kids that you don’t have to have a higher degree to get a job,” Toscano added. “A lot of my guys might not go to a four-year school. They could go to RCC.

“In the camp, I love that we’re seeing, not just hearing, about these places.”

In APP Camp, attendees visited Ingram Farm in High Point, Uwharrie Ridge Farms in Asheboro, High Meadows Alpaca Farm in Asheboro, Founders Hemp in Asheboro and a local hemp farm, and the North Carolina Zoo. They also toured a greenhouse, and participated in turbidity, metal fabrication, and animal reproduction workshops.

Uwharrie Ridge Six-Twelve teachers Sarah Fuller and Jennifer May, who both have participated in Career Focus Fridays, said the APP Camp was eye-opening, educational, and fun.

“I have students who are interested in being farmers, and I have no idea how to help them become who they want to be,” May said. “There are so many different pathways my students could take — there’s horticulture, there’s agriculture, there’s bovine, there’s chickens, there’s showing. We worked with Trinity’s FFA [Future Farmers of America] and saw how those kids really enjoy it and demonstrated their leadership. There are so many opportunities here in Randolph County — I had no idea they existed. It’s great to see how diverse the opportunities are because it really makes me happy to see our kids succeed.”

Fuller echoed May, noting the APP Camp piqued her interest as she is going to be writing curriculum with North Carolina State University about growing chickens on Mars.

“This camp allows us to go back to our student population and, even though we have some who are college-bound, a vast part of our population is not college-bound,” she said. “They don’t have goals beyond high school. This really allows us to go back to these kids and let them know about programs like Apprenticeship Randolph or RandolphWorks.”

THS freshman Torrie Davis, who is a 4-H member and president of her FFA chapter, said she is hoping to work in ag education in the future.

“My ag teacher wanted a guinea pig to see what [the camp] was about, and I’ve been texting her all week and giving her updates,” she said. “I learned a lot — I learned that compost is hot.”

Nathan Hill, who will be attending Southwestern Randolph High School in the fall, said he was reminded how to measure turbidity.

The camps are part of Pathways to Prosperity — a collaboration of RCC, ACS, and RCSS, working together with industry, to create a seamless pathway for students to go from local high schools to a great career in Randolph County. The first Pathways initiative — Advanced Manufacturing — was released in April 2015. The second Pathways initiative in 2016 focused on creating health care pathways, while the third partnership project, which debuted in April 2018, focuses on agriculture and includes the development of a new associate degree in Agribusiness Technology at RCC.
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