Students find their future in vocational high school


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NORWALK – The earliest it became clear that Chris Marrero would become some sort of mechanic was when he was only 2 years old.

His father found him in the garage with each of his tools trying to remove the drive wheels from his bike. And to his father’s surprise, the then 2-year-old Marrero figured out how to do it on his own and then rode his bike down the cul-de-sac without training wheels.

“And here I am today,” said Marrero, sitting inside JM Wright Technical High School in Stamford on a recent morning. “I love what I do. I love working on cars.


Marrero, who lives in Norwalk, is now in his final year of technical school, where he studies automotive technology and has achieved more certifications than some of the professionals he has worked with at car dealerships and motorsport stores.

While many high school students decide to go to college or university after graduating, Marrero knew early on that he wanted to go to trades school instead. In the fall, he travels to Northwest Ohio University to study diesel and high performance, as well as automotive business and administration.

After business school, he hopes to repair cars for a living and eventually start his own business, just as his father started his own electrical business after attending business school.

Although his father shut down the business and now works for the Bridgeport Fire Department, he still deals with electrical projects in parallel.

“You always find something to lean on no matter what,” Marrero said of life after business school. “People always need their cars to be repaired. People still need nurses. You will still need electricians. You will still need plumbers.

“You will always have skills that no one can take away from you,” he added.

Phyllis Bartoli, director of JM Wright Technical, said the need for trade school workers is growing in Fairfield County. Statewide, jobs in business schools – such as electricians, barbers, plumbers, roofers and cooks – are among the fastest growing occupations, according to department data of State Labor.

JM Wright Technical trains students in 10 different trades and is connected to local associations in related industries, including the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut.

“In these building trades, they need our children to continue to make Fairfield County successful and to continue to help it grow,” Bartoli said. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area alone saw an almost 11% drop in construction jobs from 2017-18, with a current total of 9,900 construction workers employed, according to department data. of State Labor.

According to Daniel Sullivan, chair of the school’s guidance program, more and more students at Norwalk High School are also considering a business school for their higher education projects. And so, the school and district have launched different ways to support those who do not pursue a four-year college degree.

Earlier in the school year, students at Norwalk High discovered a variety of post-secondary options during University Week: four-year colleges, two-year colleges, trade schools, and military options. More of these career paths will be incorporated into the district’s upcoming high school curriculum revamp, Sullivan said.

“With the cost of college, I think it has forced people to be better consumers and to look at options more holistically and not just do what is socially expected of you,” Sullivan said.

Senior Nicolas Monteleone agrees and believes there is a stereotype that business school is a last resort. But for him, going to business school is a faster route to his career destination.

Both his parents are graduates of JM Wright Technical School and support him to attend vocational school instead of college, as long as he commits to it.

He has been accepted to the New England Institute of Technology and will be studying civil engineering in the fall.

“You kind of go straight into the business and you work there,” Monteleone said. “That’s why I thought of business school as an interesting option. “

Likewise, senior Janessa Martinez is applying to a hairdressing academy in Newtown after hearing about it from a colleague at the barbershop where she works.

At first, Martinez said his parents didn’t like the idea and both graduated from technical high school. But their minds changed once they saw how determined she was to become a hairdresser.

“With college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But with business school, I know exactly what I want, ”Martinez said. “I learn best on the job, not from someone teaching from the whiteboard. So if you are that kind of person who needs to see something done in order to learn, then a business school would be a better option for you as well.

[email protected]; 203-842-2568; @stephaniehnkim

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