EAST BRUNSWICK — Thirty-two electricians and plumbers ended a four- to five-year quest when they graduated May 1 from the apprentice program of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.
The graduates, who received their certificates during a ceremony at East Brunswick Vo-Tech, completed up to 900 hours of classroom work and thousands of hours of on-the-job training.
John F. Bicsko Jr., president of the MCVTS Board of Education, recalled his apprentice training as a plumber/pipefitter in urging them to continue their technical educations to keep their skills current.
“I’m sure today is just the start of a bright and successful future for each of you,” he said.
Bicsko and Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin presented the Albert Hudanish Leadership Award to Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. The award honors the former regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training and is given annually to someone who has made a significant commitment and contribution to career and technical education and apprenticeship.
Loughlin called Diegnan “a strong advocate for the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools” and “a vocal supporter of county vocational schools and career technical education.” For his part, Diegnan said “there is no district in the State of New Jersey that better serves its students than the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District.”
Jahred Gallagher of Old Bridge was honored as class representative and valedictorian. He also was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society along with classmates Carlos Gomez of Fords and Jerry Stanzione Jr. of old Bridge. Teacher Richard Shine Jr. of Flagtown was made an honorary member.
“We are the future of the workforce,” Gallagher said. “We are ready to take on any challenge that we face.”
The Edward J. Fofrich Memorial Award, which honors a 25-year apprentice instructor for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was presented to Gomez and Stanzione by Michael McLaughlin, president of IBEW Local 456 in North Brunswick. They were cited for “practicing the principles of labor unions helping classmates in school and co-workers on the job.”
Plumber Michael Barwick of Rahway, at 44 the self-proclaimed “old guy” of the class, attended the graduation with his wife and two children. He was chosen to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I got in later in the game and I already had some field experience,” he said. “But there was a lot that I learned. We had some excellent teachers. There was a lot of experience from them that we got the benefit of.”
Dawn M. Lystad, MCVTS director of adult education and Middlesex County apprenticeship coordinator, praised the graduates’ families for supporting them in the program.
“You could not have completed your apprenticeships without the support of your families,” she told the graduates.
The MCVTS Adult School offers day and evening programs in Practical Nursing and evening programs in Electrical Technology, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology, Manicuring, Plumbing Technology, and Skin Care, as well as apprentice training in Business and Office Occupations, Construction Trades and Manufacturing Industries, and customized training that can be developed to meet the needs of employers.
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