From Total Loss… Canadian Valley Tech’s Journey to Rebuild

The students and staff of Canadian Valley Tech  in El Reno, Oklahoma have lived through a terrifying tale that most of us hope to never have to experience. But through the leadership of their staff and Dr. Greg Winters, Superintendent and a member of the NTHS Board of Directors, they’ve made it through to the other side.

From their website:

Weather lingo is second nature to Oklahomans. Many can identify a hook echo on a radar before learning to drive.

Outflow and inflow. Updrafts and downdrafts. These terms cause folks to shift their attention upward each spring as the clouds darken.

Canadian Valley Technology Superintendent Dr. Greg Winters admits to keeping one eye on the sky often during his 40-plus years in education.

Nothing properly prepared him for the fateful Friday evening of May 31, 2013.

“Everybody was watching the weather that day,” Winters said. “Forecasters were saying all week that the conditions were ripe for severe storms.”

… An intense super cell (characterized by the presence of a mesocyclone) produced a tornado southwest of El Reno at 6:03 p.m., according to information supplied by the National Weather Service. The exceptionally wide tornado followed a complex path, initially moving to the southeast at between 20 and 25 mph.

The storm expanded in size, and the tornado turned to a more eastwardly direction as it passed the El Reno Municipal Airport. Its speed increased to between 30 and 40 mph.

At 6:19 p.m., the tornado crossed U.S. Highway 81 and continued intensifying.

Power was lost at 6:20 p.m. at Canadian Valley Technology Center, as evidenced by electric clocks that stopped at this time.

At 6:26 p.m., the National Weather Service accounts state that the storm reached its maximum size of 2.6 miles wide, with surface winds approaching 295 mph.

At this point, the storm made a turn northeast and slowed significantly.

At roughly 6:35 p.m., the tornado crossed Interstate 40 and engulfed the OKC West Stockyards. Shortly thereafter, it crossed State Highway 66 and wreaked havoc on Canadian Valley’s El Reno Campus. All nine buildings on campus were destroyed.

The tornado dissipated at 6:42 p.m.


It’s been 4 years since the Canadian Valley Tech campus was leveled, and they’ve finally been able to open their new facilities and welcome their students back to campus.

Watch the video below for more on their exciting story!

CALL TO ACTION: The NTHS Chapter at Gulfport High School Needs Your Help Today!

Their mission? To aid the over 140 homeless students living in their school district.

Their approach? Using their knowledge of mechanics,  and solar power technology to create an innovative way of vending necessities to these kids in need.

And now their compassion and creativity has rocketed them into one of the top 10 national finalist spaces for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition! But they need YOUR help to win, and it’s as easy as simply tweeting your vote for them!

Their local news station, Fox WXXV 25 reports:

“A group of passionate students at Gulfport High School are gaining national attention for their approach using STEM skills to transform a simple snack machine into something to provide essential items to those in need.
It’s part of Samsung’s National Solve for Tomorrow Contest. The students have already earned the school $25,000 just for presenting their plan for the project.”

Visit Samsung Solve for Tomorrow daily (That’s right! You can vote once a day!) to cast your vote for #SamsungSolveGPHS, and let’s help these caring, community-minded NTHS members win funding for their school!

Watch the video for more on this amazing story, and their mission to use technology to reach out to students in their area who are in need!

Celebrating 100 Years of CTE

We’re marking the last few days of 2017’s Career and Technical Education Month®, a public awareness campaign that takes place each February to celebrate the value of Career and Technical Education and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country.  As part of the celebration, we wanted to highlight the 100 year history of CTE in the United States.

The Association for Career &Technical Education (ACTE) states, “Career and technical education as we know it today has its roots in the founding of the United States. From the start, a strong knowledge base and skill set for citizens were considered important.”

For more information on how CTE has literally shaped our society from the very beginning of our country up until now, check out ACTE’s History of CTE, and watch the video below…

Why CTE? And Why NTHS?

In today’s fast-moving, high-tech, and competitive work place, nothing is more important to business and industry than talented, technically skilled people.  Talented individuals with certified skills are attracting attention and drawing top pay.  And what American institution is the most reliable pipeline for these jobs?  Career and Technical Education (CTE) is the nation’s greatest source for skilled and talented workforce!

The National Technical Honor Society, established in 1984, has made a significant, positive impact on the image of career and technical education in schools and communities throughout the US.  Prior to NTHS, there was no national initiative in place to recognize and honor high-achieving  students in CTE.  Though thousands of high schools and colleges embraced and supported the recognition of excellence in academics and the arts, students in vocational-technical (now CTE) programs and majors were considered non-college bound and passed over for recognition.

Today, high-achieving students enrolled in career and technical are being recognized in over 4,000 schools and colleges throughout the US.  Additionally, many schools and colleges hosting active NTHS chapters testify that NTHS motivates and challenges CTE students to reach higher and excel in their education.  NTHS recognition and NTHS scholarships send a strong, positive message that “excellence in career and technical education pays!”

Venerating  excellence in career and technical education is equally as important as acknowledging and honoring excellence in the arts and humanities, and in today’s highly-competitive, skill-driven business and industry, high-achieving, skilled CTE students are in high demand.

NTHS members are the CTE elite and represent the top 5% of students enrolled in career and technical education and NTHS membership is America’s highest award for excellence in career and technical education.

C. Allen Powell
Co-Founder and Executive Director at the
National Technical Honor Society

Career Readiness: One Size Does NOT Always Fit All

There are many different paths students can choose on the road to education and career readiness, and these paths will all potentially lead to a successful career. But is one direction better than another? As a continuation of our celebration of Career and Technical Education Month®, we asked our advisors to share their thoughts on the benefits of attending a CTE school over a traditional college or university. Karen has been overseeing the NTHS chapter at GI-Tech Education Center for many years, and here’s what she had to say:

After watching family and friends scramble to find work – any work, after attaining 4+ year degrees, and leaving with thousands of dollars of debt hanging over their heads, my thoughts are these:

A 4-year degree is NOT for everyone, nor should it be…

Our nation is fast losing the skills and technical know-how to actually, physically DO the practical things of life.  Where would we be if suddenly there were no plumbers, electricians, machinists, graphic designers, welders, builders, chefs, nurses and techs, mechanics, broadcasting professionals… and even cosmetologists?!  To whom would we turn when the inevitable need for those skills arose?  And it is good to remember that CTE promotes more than technical expertise.  It also focuses on character development, work ethic, employability skills, responsibility, leadership, and desire to succeed. 

We need to rethink our priorities, and if they really make sense.  A college degree is valuable and commendable – no doubt – but a career technical degree or certification is of equal value.  A well-functioning society needs both sides of that coin to remain productive and self-sufficient.

Karen Petoskey
Work Based Learning Facilitator and NTHS Advisor
at Gratiot-Isabella Technical Education Center
Mt. Pleasant, MI

How CTE Changed My Life

February is Career and Technical Education Month®, and not long ago, we asked our members to share their experiences on how studying at a CTE school rather than  a traditional 4-year college had affected their lives and careers. Here’s Steve’s story:

My story may be different than most, but I know I’m not the only one with a similar story. 

I graduated high school with honors, a wife, and a four month old baby.  Traditional college was not in the cards for me.  I had taken two years of auto mechanics in high school and was already a pretty good mechanic.  Not too long after graduation, I was given the opportunity to enroll in a diesel mechanics certificate program at South Plains College in Levelland, TX.  After completing that program, I got a job as a mechanic making better money than most every one I knew in my age range.  After gaining some “real world” experience, I got a job at Dallas Area Rapid Transit in what was then their prestigious “Overhaul Shop,” and earned not only good pay, but outstanding benefits.  I worked there for almost 10 years, and made better money than lots of my degreed friends. 

After health issues required that I change professions, I did an intensive (40 hours a week in class) computer programming certificate program at El Centro in Dallas where I learned to program COBOL.  I worked for Neiman Marcus, The Dallas Morning News and Computer Sciences Corporation.  I helped avert the end of the world by fixing Y2K coding problems.  I made better money than most people I knew while I was programming.  Unfortunately my job was offshored to India, and I decided to get out of the tech industry for a while. 

Now, at 56 years of age, I’m about to finish my first degree, an Associates of Applied Science in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design.  CADD probably won’t pay quite as well as COBOL did, but I’ll like it better, and I expect considerably less stress.  It will pay plenty well too. 

I still don’t have a bachelor’s degree, probably never will, but I bet if you look at the cost of my education as a percentage of the income provided by that education, it is substantially less than most Bachelor degrees would cost.

A certificate program right out of high school fed and clothed my babies pretty well.  It improved my quality of life far beyond what would have been possible otherwise.  I believe that many times, the folks just coming out of high school just don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their life, and some just aren’t interested in going to college.  For those people, CTE might be the best option out there. 

If I wanted to get a bachelor’s today, I’d do it.  There’s nothing stopping me but a lack of desire.  I just don’t see where one would benefit me enough to justify the cost.  But I’ll tell you what I know.: There are lots of people who wished they’d have done something fun, like learning how to weld, or fix an air conditioner, or maybe build an engine, before they started college.  They’d have had a better idea of what they wanted to study, made better grades, and gotten more out of the education they paid for.

Steve Shipley
NTHS Member at Collin County Community College
Frisco, TX

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