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Kory Cooper, instructor for the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center’s electricity program, left, and Matt Campbell, principal at the school’s Mahoning County Global Academy, which includes the electricity program, look at diagram of a new standalone building that will expand course offerings for students.

CANFIELD — Plans for a new building that will focus on teaching the latest technologies in electrical installation and repair will help Mahoning County Career and Technical Center students now and in the future.

The school is building a 30-by-30 foot facility to expand course offerings in heating and air conditioning systems, installation and use of solar panels, generating power using wind turbines and installation of charging stations for electric cars.

The new building will stand alone at the school, 7300 N. Palmyra Road. Courses to introduce 11th-grade students to the electrical industry will remain.

“Senior students will be using the new building to learn green energy devices, bending conduit, etc.,” Kory Cooper, 33, instructor for MCCTC’s electricity program, said.

“The use of green energy appears to be the future, so we want those graduating from this program to have the knowledge and skills of working with these resources,” Cooper said. “Because the way the current building is constructed, we could not use solar panels or wind turbines. We will be able to use them in the new building.”

In addition to providing future students with learning opportunities in the field, the new building will be a teaching tool for construction and electrical students because they will be doing the primary construction work.

“We are hiring a firm to do the foundation and concrete work, but most everything else will be done by our students,” Cooper said.

Matt Campbell, principal at MCCTC’s Global Academy, hopes the building will be completed before the end of the year. The estimated cost of the project is $30,000.

Jessica Cene, MCCTC’s spokeswoman, said the electricity program has seen growth in the number of students signing up for its classes.

“We have a maximum capacity of 24 students that can take classes today, but, because of coronavirus space restrictions we can only have about 18 to 19 students,” she said. “The new building will nearly double the space, so we will be able to have between 40 and 50 students between the schools.”

Jacob Fuschillo, 19, a senior in the program, said MCCTC’s electricity program was the right choice for him.

“I’m more of an hands-on person,” Fuschillo said. “I learn better when I’m able to do something myself than someone telling me how to do it.”

He became interested in electricity, when at 15, he helped his father, Christopher, wire the lights in a bathroom of a neighbor’s house.

“Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I began asking my father a lot of questions about how electricity and wiring worked,” Fuschillo said.

He quickly realized he wanted to go to a vocational school to learn how to become an electrician. A year later, he toured MCCTC and decided to complete his high school education going through its program.

After graduation, Fuschillo hopes to complete his testing before the end of the year and enter the local union for additional training.

The electricity program is one of 22 being taught at MCCTC, Superintendent John Zehentbauer said.

The school averages 400 new junior students a year, according to Zehentbauer. It maintained that average over the last year.

“We’re seeing more parents interested in their children seeing the opportunities available at technical centers than in past years,” he said. “They are seeing the increasing costs of a four-year college education and the chance of their children earning the same amount or more coming directly out of high school is pretty good.”

Phil Bellotta, an instructor with MCCTC’s exercise science program, said it prepares students to be athletic trainers, in sports medicine and it provides the foundations they need to continue their educations to be occupational and / or physical therapists.

“Our students learn how to do fitness testing and evaluations,” he said. “Our students generally go on to do some post-secondary education.”

The program averages between 15 and 20 students per lab.

“The pandemic affected the number of new students coming into the program,” he said. “It affected the number of our programs. It was difficult because we were not able to recruit as we had done previously. It was a lot of word of mouth,” he said.

Every school district in Mahoning County, except for Youngstown, allows their students interested in specific fields taught at MCCTC to attend school.

Youngstown City Schools students have the opportunity to take 16 similar courses at Choffin Career and Technical Center, 200 E. Wood St. The school has 329 Youngstown juniors and seniors participating in its programs.

During the two years prior to the pandemic, Choffin had experienced consistent growth in the number of applicants and enrollees and students, said Mike Saville, Choffin director.

“This year, due to the pandemic, our recruitment efforts have been completely virtual, which is very different from how we’ve recruited in years past,” he said.

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