ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – More than 300 Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE) students were honored on Tuesday during a ceremony that celebrated their success in academics and preparing for the workforce. With parents, friends, school and BOCES administrators looking on, students from nearly two-dozen school districts ranging from Guilderland to Watervliet, Cobleskill to Shenendehowa, and Bethlehem to Schenectady were celebrated.

The ceremony marked the completion of one and two-year programs at the school, including diesel technology, culinary, cosmetology, building trades, criminal justice, network cabling, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, carpentry, and automotive technology. Speaker after speaker praised the graduates for going above and beyond to secure bright futures and assured the graduates that they will always be a part of the BOCES family.

“You are part of our family for a lifetime,” said Capital Region BOCES Senior Executive Officer Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D. “If you need anything you can come back to Capital Region BOCES and we will help you.”

Albany Career and Technical School Principal Shelette Pleat encouraged the students to use the skills they have learned to “do what you love, and do it with a passion.” “Enjoy life, and don’t take anything for granted,” she added.

Many of the graduates are going on to college and trade schools; still, others are going straight into the workforce thanks to the skills they learned and the connections they made at BOCES.

Among them is Welding graduate Hunter Hebler who had multiple job offers after graduation. “I had multiple job offers and I considered my best options,” the Guilderland graduate said. “It’s great having a job and having options.” Hebler ended up pursuing a career with Ross Precision Manufacturing in Green Island.

Those graduates going to college said they are more than ready to succeed thanks to the advantage a career and technical education gave them. “I am going to the University of Central Florida for Business Administration for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration so that one day I can open my own salon,” said Ariana Valle, a cosmetology graduate from Shenendehowa. “I feel I am ready to succeed because I have had the highest self-confidence since coming to BOCES.”

Student awards and recognition

Thomas Rodick, winner of the Outstanding Student of the Year Award. (Photo: Capital Region BOCES)

Dozens of awards were presented during the ceremony. Among those honored was Thomas Rodick of Shenendehowa, who was given the Outstanding Student of the Year Award.

Rodick, a graduate of the Network Cabling Technician/Smart Home Technology program, will attend Hudson Valley Community College in the Fall for the Electrical Construction and Maintenance program. He aspires to a career at National Grid.

Rodick, who won the SkillsUSA speech competition, shared his skills with those on hand at the graduation Tuesday. “CTE creates a professional workspace for students to merge into mature employees or scholars. This is because we as students are really treated more like employees. Students … go from asking for hall passes to working important roles within a team or a company,” Rodick said.

Scholarship recipients, their home districts, and programs are as follows:

  • The Jay Frankel Award – Daniel Baughn, Watervliet, Building Trades 
  • Capital Region BOCES Culinary II Scholarship at SUNY Schenectady Community College – Benjamin Hladik, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Culinary 
  • Student of the Year Nominee – Kelly Westervelt, Shenendehowa, Global Fashion 
  • The William Kress Humanitarian Award – Kelly Westervelt, Shenendehowa, Global Fashion
  • The Joe Fuchs Award – Angelique Barnett, Schenectady, Food Services
  • The SkillsUSA Student of the Year – Ashlyn Knapp, South Colonie, Pet Tech
  • SkillsUSA Area III Scholarship – Tom Rodick, Shenendehowa, Cable Networking
  • Mike Todd Award – Christian Keehner, Shenendehowa, Welding
  • The Curtis Lumber Award – Brandon Rowe, Schenectady, Building Trades II