Obtaining a four-year college degree isn't for everyone, and that's absolutely fine.
In fact, it's a good thing that attending a university for a bachelor's or other degree isn't the goal of every single high school student. America needs a skilled workforce -- people with abilities taught outside of what might be considered the traditional classroom.
Thank goodness for technical education and efforts such as SkillsUSA. According to the organization's website, SkillsUSA "is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel. We provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms."
Several Mattoon High School students are headed to the national level after earning top honors in state SkillsUSA competition this spring. More than 1,000 students from across Illinois competed in 100 different contests testing different proficiencies in trade, technical and leadership skills, as the JG-TC reported late last week.
Dylan Miner took home a gold award in Digital Imaging Technology and was one of three to earn gold for Chapter Display, making him the first in the MHS chapter's history to take home two gold awards.
As this newspaper detailed, in the Digital Imaging Technology event, Miner and other competitors had to exactly print images onto items like mugs and mouse pads. He said the contest required exact mimics of sample items with the precise measurements.
In the other gold win for Chapter Display, contestants had to show their chapter in a creative way: Josh Sewell, Patrick Hate and Miner displayed a representation of SkillsUSA in the form of an arcade machine.
These and other wins for the MHS SkillsUSA team send students to nationals for the chapter's second time. Adviser Laura Roberts said last year was the first.
It's important for local schools to continue and perhaps add vocational tech and similar programs to train future members of the American workforce. Also at MHS, the annual building of a house by high schoolers -- with supervision from adult experts in construction -- is another valuable place to learn lessons that the traditional classroom can't offer.
Hats off to the adults who help guide students in these directions, or at least show them the possibilities outside a university. While the value of a college education cannot be overstated, that's not the best direction for everyone. Career and technical education has its own valuable role in the American workplace as well.
Bravo to the local students already honing these skills, their educators and supporters, and to their future as part of a skilled workforce in the U.S.A.
-- JG-TC Editorial Board