WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Beaufort County students are gearing up in more ways than one.

“Today’s career and technical education are not yesterday’s vocational classes. It’s very different in that we’re looking at careers, not necessarily a job, but a career,” said Victoria Hamill, Beaufort County Schools director of CTE.

Beaufort County Schools has three career technical education academies on its high school campuses. That includes building boats at Washington High School, learning fire fighting skills at Southside and fixing cars at Northside.

“We took the heads off from an issue with overheating and have been sent off to a machine shop. So now we’re kinda putting everything back together,” said Jackson Waycaster, a Northside student.

These three academies are where students are getting hands-on learning.

“It makes high school a lot more interesting and entertaining,” Waycaster said. “Whereas just sitting in a classroom all day and learning about one thing can kinda get boring sometimes. Coming out to the shop, with hands-on work is awesome.”

“Thankfully with all the training and with Coach (Otis) Harrell’s help and even though he wouldn’t be there on the day going through the fire, he has helped me and so many others to focus on calming down and realizing what the situation is and what you have to do to overcome it and to not give up. If you can save your own life, you can say somebody else’s,” said Tony, a Southside student.

“Everyone does not have the ability to go to college. Some of them have to go into a trade school or be able to go straight to a career. with the Firefighter Academy here at Southside High School, it is easier to talk to the kids, learn hands-on skills and what they need to prepare themselves once they get outside of their life for high school,” said Harrell, who is a Southside Fire Academy teacher.

“When I came to school here, everything was college, college prep,” said Kevin Braddy, who teaches automotive at Northside High School. “I think they’ve created the problem that we have now where we don’t have enough people to do these trades. And to see the interest and the, and the need for these people and these trades.

“Who else was going to do it? There will be nobody to do it. Somebody has to do grunt work. Plumbers, somebody has to do the plumbing, somebody has to fix this car.”

“We have between eight and 10 Local boat builders in this area that if students wanted to go through the boat building Academy, they could learn skills,” Hamill said. “There’s an industry here for them to work in. And it’s not just the bodybuilding industry. We have a great need for firefighters and EMTs, law enforcement, and health care.

“There are jobs available right here in their hometown, and we’re trying to help prepare them for that.”

“If you just take out the physical-mechanical aspect of it. The troubleshooting behind this is nothing more than a problem-solving,” Braddy said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re welding, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a doctor, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an attorney, there are always problems and there’s always a process to follow to solve the problems. And if you can learn how to follow problem-solving steps, you can do anything really.”