Vocational school for youths back and bigger than ever in Huntington

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — A program in Huntington aimed at teaching students useful trade and life skills is back and bigger than ever this fall.

The Salvation Army is underway with their fall vocational school program. Students aged 11 to 17 are getting together and learning life skills they may not have otherwise learned.

Organizers say this fall’s class enrollment is the largest they’ve had yet.

“I feel great because I don’t know how to use any of those tools. I could be able to build a treehouse if I learn,” says Bella, an 11-year-old in the program.

“All day long they’re in school, they’re sitting there learning their history, their English. And those things are important, but we also want to provide something they don’t get which is things like tool identification, how to build things. As an example, building bedframes. Our program has built a shed, we’ve done picnic tables, we’ve done birdhouses,” says Nicholas Devens, program director of The Salvation Army Vocational School.

Right now, the students are getting their hands on building bedframes for children in foster care.

“It’s really fun to do, I think it’s really cool to do homework and build beds,” Bella says.

The vocational school offers more than that:

“It’s like a big round of everything, so they’re gettin’ their life skill classes, they’re getting their tutoring, and then they’re getting their hands on stuff with building the bed,” says Jake Merritt, program assistant at The Salvation Army Vocational School.

“Our focus is to try to get them to learn things that are not typically taught in schools so that way they can understand that’s not their only option as they grow up,” Devens says.

With permission from the parents through The Salvation Army, students in the program tell us how this program is helping them figure out their career goals.

“It helps me understand better because there’s tutors that come and they help you,” says Hannah, a 12-year-old in the vocational school.  

“When you grow up if you like build, like know how to, if you wanna be like building stuff,” says McKaila, an 11 year old in the vocational school.

Organizers behind this project say teaching kids these valuable life skills could even benefit Huntington as a whole in the long run.

“In the Huntington area, we have a lot of trade groups here that need the personnel, that need to be trained up on and if they this going into it, then they may stand a better chance to make some good money…Also, gonna have tax money coming in because now you have another trade group that’s working here, creating revenue for the city,” Devens says.

As for the kids themselves:

“I think it’s fun because you get to learn how to build and it’s also educational so you know how to do it yourself,” Hannah says.

Organizers say they hope to expand the school’s operations in Huntington and are helping to bring the program to other cities.

The vocational school continues to enroll kids into the program.

For more information, visit their website here.

For more information about The Salvation Army in Huntington, visit their website here.

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