Home Local News Student intern successes highlighted at Richmond County Board of Education meeting

Student intern successes highlighted at Richmond County Board of Education meeting

Automotive instructor Tony Clewis holds up a T-shirt after presenting Austin Long with a scholarship from the Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative.
Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Four Richmond County students were recognized for their participation in the Career and Technical Education program at last week’s School Board meeting — one of whom was awarded a scholarship.

Automotive instructor Tony Clewis presented a $1,000 check and T-shirt from the Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative to Austin Long, who has been interning with Dieffenbach GM Superstore.

According to the website, HFFI: “compensates apprenticing experiences with professional tradesperson mentors. Fellows work alongside mentors in real work situations to deepen their interest, develop hands-on practical skills, and broaden the professional network that will support them as they move through their professional lives. HFFI, CTE teachers, and industry mentors come together to provide transformative experiences for Fellows, strengthen CTE programs to develop a cohort of skilled, committed youth entering the trades.”

“I told Austin today his check was in the mail,” Clewis told school board members before turning to Long. “And the mail’s come, Austin.”

Another student, William Evans Legette, received his in February, Clewis said. Legette has been an intern with Griffin Toyota in cooperation with Forsyth Technical Community College, since Richmond Community College doesn’t have an automotive program.

“I’m glad I’m getting a chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” Legette told the Board. “I’ve always wanted to work on cars. I love cars.”

The two students both thanked their teachers for helping them get where they are.

Both Long and Legette are in registered pre-apprenticeships, according to CTE Director Greg Norton.

Legette will be able to attend Forsyth for two years at no cost, spending half of his time during his second year at a dealership, according to Career Development Coordinator Jason Perakis. Long will be attending Wayne Community College, where he will become a General Motors certified technician.

Richmond County Schools Career Development Director Jason Perakis talks about the future plans of William Evans Legette, who has been an intern with Griffin Toyota.

Agriculture instructor Joy Kennedy also introduced two of her student interns.

Eli Maske, president of the high school’s chapter of Future Farmers of America, is an intern with Mountain Creek Farms, managing two other students.

“This internship has given me the knowledge and people skills and networking to get out on my own,” Maske said.

Josie Standridge, another FFA officer, is interning with Wright Family Farms and plans to major in embryology at N.C. State University.

“I just love this internship,” Standridge said. “It’s given me a wonderful opportunity to learn and get to be in the chicken houses and be hands-on with everything.”

Standridge added that she’s learned more from the hands-on classes than any other.

Kennedy said Standridge is going to have an advantage over other students because of the time she’s spent in the poultry industry.

“If you could see under my mask just how big my smile is — you guys have made us proud and we’re so happy you’ve found your passion and have had these teachers to help you along the way,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples.

Agriculture instructor Joy Kennedy talks about the farming internships of Josie Standridge and Eli Maske.

The district also has students in unregistered pre-apprenticeships with the Aberdeen Fire Department, Meachum Logging and Phil’s automotive.

Other local businesses sponsoring interns are: B&D Spindles; Meacham Logging; the cities of Hamlet and Wadesboro; DeWitt’s Outdoor Sports; Hayden Construction; Holiday Restaurant; Murphy Chiropractic and Dr. Leonard Haltiwanger; the Richmond County Airport; Richmond County Chamber of Commerce; Richmond County Schools; Richmond County Hospice; Superior Cranes; Therafirm; and Todd’s Computers.

Norton said work-based learning allows students to experience real-world opportunities in their chosen pathway.

“Career and Technical Education in Richmond County is really striving to really increase our work-based learning opportunities,” Norton said, adding that seven are recognized by the state: apprenticeships; cooperative education; entrepreneurial experiences; internships; mentorships; school-based enterprise; and student learning.

Apprenticeships and internships are the only two currently being used by the district, but Norton hopes to expand in the different types of opportunities in the future.

Registered apprenticeships, Norton said, include a structured pay scale, structured training and includes the opportunity for students to come back and work for the company.

The goal of the program, according to Norton, is for students to have employment after graduation, or continue their education in the field — or both.

Perakis explained that pre-apprenticeships, or youth apprenticeships, are at the high school level and apprenticeships are for college students.

Perakis said the CTE teachers have been so successful companies are now calling him to find interns.

There are currently 17 interns — all high school seniors — this semester, Perakis said.

“A lot of these employers want these students when they graduate,” said Perakis.


Norton said the district is in the process of purchasing a 16-foot enclosed construction trailer for the carpentry program. The tools for the trailer have already been bought, including a generator, portable table saw, several compound miter saws.

The goal, Norton said, is to outfit the trailer — with logos made by the graphics department — to have on work sites like Habitat for Humanity builds.

Norton added that an electrical program, in cooperation with the community college, has been started at Ashley Chapel Educational Center and a plumbing program is slated for next fall. He added that select students from Richmond Senior High School will be able to take advantage of the programs, as well.

The carpentry classes at Ashley Chapel are going to construct a residential simulator to be used by the electrical and plumbing pathways “to be able to wire it, plumb it, pull it out and use it again,” Norton said.

Classes have also made wooden flags, with one each going to state Rep. Ben Moss and Sen. Tom McInnis to hang in their Raleigh legislative offices.

RichmondCC also has a welding lab on the Richmond Senior campus, with students in grades 9-12 taking classes. Norton added that there are three welding interns in the field: two at Superior Cranes; and one at Phil’s Automotive.

Students also have the opportunity to go through the Public Safety Academy.

Norton said the firefighter technology program has been in existence for a few years and there are currently five graduates working full time with regional departments. One student will be hired at a Moore County department after he graduates this year.


“We’re really excited about our firefighter program, especially with the small number of students,” Norton said.

The high school is also partnering with RichmondCC to host continuing education classes in the Fire Academy classroom and use the program’s equipment, which includes two fire trucks.

Norton said there will also be a class added to the public safety program, which will include telecommunications certification.

Another course will be added to the done technology program, as well, Norton added.

The current class allows students to obtain both FAA and N.C. Department of Transportation licenses. The new class, Norton said, will focus more on the entrepreneur side.

Many of the students learning trades are also keeping their grades up, Norton noted, with 35 being members of the National Technical Honor Society, which has the strongest requirements of any organization at the high school, including a 3.5 GPA.

In helping students decide their career paths, the district is using Major Clarity: a career development and exploration, and academic planning tool. About 70% of the students at the Ninth Grade Academy have created career profiles, according to Norton.

“It’s going to be a game-changer when scheduling comes around, getting students in the transitions from middle school to high school, high school to the next level,” Norton said.

School Board member Bobbie Sue Ormsby said the CTE program is something that’s been needed for a long time.

Norton said many districts weren’t able to continue their internship programs during the pandemic, but Richmond has due to the support of the board.

School Board member Joe Richardson, a former vocational teacher, said he was disappointed the state hasn’t done more to support CTE programs over the past decade.

“I think that’s changing … and it’s a change in the right direction,” Richardson said. “These apprenticeships are really, really valuable, because a lot of kids get out of school … (and) have no idea what they want to do.”

“We’re proud of all of our teachers, all of our interns,” said Norton. “It’s just a small sampling of all the great things going on.”


Below are links to other stories about CTE students:

Richmond Observer




Richmond County Schools




Richmond Community College