RUSTBURG — Rustburg High School senior Corey Snider quietly walked up to the front table in a conference room in the Campbell County Technical Center and sat down next to two representatives from his future employer.

With a smile on his face, he signed his name and watched a representative do the same signifying Snider’s acceptance of full-time employment at Southern Landscape Group, a company that provides planning, construction and aftercare services for landscaping.

After signing, Snider put on a Southern Landscaping hat.

Snider was among 22 students from the four Campbell County high schools that signed letters of intent Thursday morning with 13 local businesses during the technical center’s first-ever signing day.

“They’re transitioning right from high school into the workforce. We really need to raise that up in society, and we feel like this is one way of drawing real positive attention to the commitment that those youngsters are making to the workforce but also the commitment that our businesses are making to our young people,” said Jon Hardie, Campbell County Technical Center principal.

Students who participated in Thursday’s signing are entering careers related to welding, cosmetology, electrical, nursing and more. Campbell County Technical Center Career and Technical Education counselor Ashley Wilson said the tech center has 118 seniors and 84 in CTE occupational and technical programs sponsored at Central Virginia Community College.

“It’s a very diverse group of students and employers, but these are the real local jobs. These are right here in our community,” Hardie said. “Each individual person has their own goals in life to achieve, and a career is an essential part of that. We need all kinds of work done by all kinds of people.”

Wilson said she had the idea for a signing day after she saw a clip of the Today Show on Facebook showing a signing day for students going into the workforce in Henrico County.

“It was like why are we not doing this for these students who are achieving at a high level, have secured full time employment and have really done all the things employers are expecting adults to do?” Wilson said.

Wilson said she’s “so, so proud I have the privilege of working with awesome students,” and Thursday’s signing day “has been the experience that has made me the most proud as CTE counselor.”

Eva Womack, a senior at Brookville High School and now an employee of Maven Salon, said she was grateful for signing day because “you see all these athletes and stuff sign with their school but it’s not ever for the people who go straight into a field,” and “it’s really nice” to be recognized.

Steve Walker, building automation systems manager at Southern Air, said an event like signing day for those going into the workforce after graduation is “extremely important” because “it puts an emphasis on how important these vocational and trades schools are to our business and others like ours.”

Walker was at the technical center Thursday for Brookville High School senior Jaycob Carwile.

“Once we interviewed him, there was no doubt in my mind he was going to be a good candidate,” Walker said.

Brookville High School senior Ashley Fairchild said the teachers at the technical center were great, and she’s “very grateful for the people I’ve had around me this year,” including cosmetology instructor Hannah David. Fairchild said David is “very, very good at teaching us how to do what we do.”

Fairchild said she’s excited to start making a name for herself as she starts her career in cosmetology at Innovations Hair Studio and Spa.

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Liz Ramos covers K-12 education for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

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