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Through ’80s, career ed transformed


XENIA — Twenty years into the formation of the Greene Vocational School, Greene County voters decided the future of the school was about to change.

Issues on the February of 1987 ballot included a .75 mill permanent improvement levy and .25 mill operating levy. Both passed — and soon computers were installed building-wide.

A year later, the Greene Vocational School was re-named. The Greene County Career Center (GCCC) keeps its name today.

James Clendening was superintendent as the technological revolution of the school began. Others witnessed the transformation of the school as it changed — both technologically and architecturally — from the way it was in 1967, like director Wallace Gossett.

“When computers came in, Mr. Clendening — who was the superintendent — took the courtyard that we used to have right behind the main entrance and our cafeteria. The courtyard there was taken care of by the horticulture people. He took that and made a computer lab out of it,” Gossett, 93, said.

Wayne Wolfe, who taught horticulture from 1968-1995, saw the courtyard transform from dirt to plants to computers.

“It was just an open spot with nothing in it but dirt when I came there,” Wolfe said. “School started, the students landscaped it, then took care of it during the school day — weeding it, pruning it, and so on. It stayed that way until they made the addition onto it.”

Gossett said more computers were placed throughout the building, and after that the school just kept expanding.

“That improvement levy helped a lot,” Gossett said. “I’d say the school is at least twice as big as it was when it started.”

Additions to the school in the ’80s and ’90s included a new HVAC, electrical wiring labs, Clendening Center for Technology and Adult Education Building.

The middle history of the school saw other changes as well. Through applied academics, students began spending half the day in their career-technical lab and half the day in academic classes. Tech Prep was also introduced, allowing for the first college preparatory pathway.

Following Clendening’s tenure at GCCC was Marsha Leonard’s, who served as superintendent from 1995 to 2010.

During her time, Leonard experienced the impact of the technological revolution that occurred before her.

New technological advancements, she said, afforded her own students more opportunities.

“Modernization of equipment in the laboratories allowed us to do new programs that we didn’t have previously. A lot of those were much more dependent on technology,” she said, naming engineering technology, biotechnology and information technology.

The former superintendent also said that Clendening’s expansion and renovation of facilities that began in the ’80s continued during her tenure.

“When you add new programs or change the focus of programs, that requires a lot of space and new equipment,” Leonard said.

The 2000s saw new lab spaces, academic classrooms, offices and a cafeteria. The school continuously evolved from the one-wing building that opened in 1967.

“We certainly could not have done what we were able to do had it not been for them,” Leonard said of Gossett, Clendening, and the superintendents before her. “They certainly understood the role of vocational education and gave the school a strong foundation and as a result brought career technical education to Greene County.”

Leonard, although now retired, said she still hears the success of the career center’s graduates from students, parents and people in business and industry. From its early start in 1967 — to its technological revolution in the ’80s — to its current ongoing transformation, Leonard said the importance of the GCCC remains evident in 2017.

“I see it every day … we’ve always had a tremendous need for students to have career and technical training,” she said. “It’s just as important today as when the school started 50 years ago — even more-so today.”

Submitted photos Horticulture instructor Wayne Wolfe teaches students in a Greene County Career Center greenhouse in the 1980s.
http://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/09/web1_Horticulture-80s-1.jpgSubmitted photos Horticulture instructor Wayne Wolfe teaches students in a Greene County Career Center greenhouse in the 1980s.

Students do clerical work in a career center classroom. Image circa 1980s.
http://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/09/web1_Clerical-80s-1.jpgStudents do clerical work in a career center classroom. Image circa 1980s.

By Anna Bolton

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Editor’s note: this is the second story of a series celebrating the GCCC’s 50th anniversary.

Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.