SANFORD — Students from Lee County’s elementary and high schools saw trucks and truck-related careers up close Tuesday during Central Carolina Community College’s Truck-Transportation Day, held at the college’s Emergency Services Training Center on Tramway Road.
Envisioned as a way to expose young people to various careers, the day featured groups of children from public schools across Lee County meeting with representatives from various careers — most of which were centered around or involved trucks.
The Sanford and Northview fire departments were on hand, as was the North Carolina National Guard. Representatives from Central Electric Membership Corporation and Ready Mix Concrete were also there. The Lee County Office of Emergency Management, Caterpillar and local law enforcement agencies also participated.
CCCC President Dr. Bud Marchant said he’d overseen a similar event while he was vice president of Southern Piedmont Community College, in Monroe, and liked the idea of young students having a chance to view different career opportunities.
“Our hope is, for example, that maybe they’ll see an ambulance and become excited about a medical career,” Marchant said.
At one station, Northview Assistant Fire Chief Cy Richardson showed off the department’s fire engine to a group of young onlookers, explaining the functions of the vehicle’s knobs, dials and compartments.
“Has anybody here every heard of the jaws of life,” Richardson asked, referring to the giant set of hydraulic tools emergency responders often use to extricate victims of vehicle crashes. “These are what we use if there’s been a car crash and we can’t get the vehicle opened up.”
At another station, manned by Stan Thompson, motorcycle mechanics instructor in the college’s Transport Systems Technologies Department, made a quick connection with 10-year-old Gage Maule, a fifth grader at Greenwood Elementary.
“I’ve ridden in a golf cart,” Maule responded when Thompson asked if any of the students had been on a motorcycle.
“A golf cart has an engine that’s very similar to the engines in some motorcycles,” Thompson said, engaging the young man in a brief discussion about gas engines, electric engines and hybrids.
The day was put on with the partnership of the Lee County School District, particularly the district’s Graduation Express Program. That program matches fourth and fifth graders from across the county with high school students who serve as mentors throughout the school year.
Dr. Gary Jackson, a central office consultant with the district, said about 50 high school students — all of whom must maintain a 3.5 GPA and avoid any disciplinary issues — meet weekly with about 165 elementary school kids and offer mentoring to them. In addition to the educational component, Wednesday’s event served as something of an end-of-year treat for all involved, Jackson said.
Virginia Brown, CCCC’s liaison for vocational and technical programs, said the day wouldn’t have been possible without the help of CCCC personnel, including administrative assistant Martha Wilkie, recruiter Patrick Kelly, ESTC director of Emergency Services Landis Phillips and ESTC Fire and Rescue coordinator Joey Shue; as well as Dr. Jackson and representatives from Lee County Schools.