Advice from Health Occupations Alumni, Anna DeSantis

Be the best version of yourself that you can be. You’ll make mistakes and that’s okay.  Just learn from them.” This was a statement from Anna DeSantis, alumni from Health Occupations (yes, one of the original members of ‘Cairns Crew’), a graduate of Center High School, CCBC, and RMU.  

Anna, enrolled in Health Occupations in high school due to her interest in wanting to become a medical professional, more specifically, a flight nurse. And surprisingly enough, the CTC was not her first option.  Anna’s mother felt it was an appropriate path as she was a graduate of career and tech ed herself.  She knew that the program would give Anna enough information and experience that it would enable her to know if being a nurse, was in fact, what she wanted to do and it was. 

Although Anna discovered through college clinicals college clinicals that she changed her mind about becoming a flight nurse, she explained to the students that the basis of her career came from Health Occupations in helping her to develop professionalism, empathy, critical thinking and making informed decisions.  She learned to follow safety procedures, be a team player and develop self-awareness. She also commented that it was the start of a really awesome career.  Currently, she is an ER Nurse in Georgia. 

In closing, Anna commented, “Embrace your role as a student here. This sticks with you and it’s the most humble part of the medical field.  All the team building skills learned here will be applied in a work team at whatever medical facility you find. Don’t ever forget where you started and remember to always be the patient’s advocate.” 

Anna, thank you for your insight and valuable advice! Ms. Cairns, Ms. Izz, and the students enjoyed listening to your health care journey and appreciate the time you were able to spend with them. Thank you! 

‘Teacher Feature’ in Automotive Technology

With nearly 50 years in the industry, 10 years of teaching at BCCTC and close to 40 years working for a Chevrolet dealership, Mr. Alan Valasek, Automotive Technology instructor, will not be returning next year as he is retiring his automotive work wrench.

 “Probably my favorite project we worked on in here would be the ’67 Camaro due to the amount of time and student involvement on that car. But projects aside, I am definitely going to miss the students, however I am looking forward to relaxing and not having to worry about daily work pressures,” Mr. Valasek said.  He continues, “Of course, I will miss the staff too. They are extremely friendly and I like how they all pull together to help each other out.”

When asked if he had any advice for a new teacher, he said, “Take things as they come and realize that the students in this program are not professionals yet. It’s important to be patient and it’s equally important to award bonus points for the Chevy drivers!”

Dylan Lewis, Automotive Technology student from South Side who will be returning to the program next year said, “Mr. V taught me a lot, especially with electrical and engine work.  He’s really cool. I’ll miss him.”

Mr. Jason Davis, Automotive’s Instructional Assistant added, “Working with Alan these past years, has been a real pleasure. He always treated me as an equal and was open to any suggestions I had for the class. His friendly nature and vast automotive knowledge will be a loss to the school and future students. I would like to wish him the best in his new chapter of life in retirement!”

And finally, our Assistant Administrative Director, Ms. Laura DelVecchio, had the following to say.  “Mr. Valasek has been an asset to the career center in so many ways and will be missed terribly. His willingness to go above and beyond for his students and think outside of the box during the pandemic to ensure that his students had opportunities that enabled them to get the hands on experience needed through utilizing our business partners, his willingness to bring in new equipment to the program to ensure his students were learning on the latest and greatest in the industry, and his undying support to help his colleagues and members of our partner districts with issues they encountered with their vehicles with his “Can Do” attitude, will be missed. Mr. Valasek , aka V, is a class act and his handprint will remain on the hearts of his students for years to come. Thank you so much for your service and for all that you have done to make a difference in the program and more importantly for the students enrolled in the Automotive Technology program.”

Apart from emphasizing how much he will miss the students and staff, Mr. Valasek ended his interview by stating, “I would like to wish everyone the best in what life has to offer.” 

Mr. Valasek, we would like to wish you the same. Happy Retirement and THANK YOU!

Building More than just a ‘Footer’

Masonry/Bricklaying student, Devin Cox from Freedom Area School District and Arnold ‘Red’ Shaner, Masonry/Bricklaying instructor and owner of Redco Masonry, were guest speakers during last night’s Beaver Valley Contractors & Suppliers Association general meeting.
Mr. Shaner spoke first saying, “When you take pride in what you do, it shows. Devin is one of those who takes pride in what he does and I was fortunate to have good students like Devin this year.”
When it was Devin’s time to speak, he said, “I want to make a name for myself in the industry and use the skills I learned in Masonry. I want my future employer to know what I can do.”
Hopefully, Devin’s future employer will be the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers as he has an interview today with the organization as he would like to become an apprentice. Devin, GREAT JOB on your presentation last night and GOOD LUCK TODAY on that interview!

Graphic Arts & Printing Themed Candy Wrappers

Chocolate is a GREAT gift! But what about the wrapper?? A Joint Operating Committee member wanted to give the right gift to some extra-special residents at a local nursing home. This JOC member asked Graphic Arts & Printing instructor, Ms. Nicki DeMark and her students, to help create a candy wrapper themed for Mother’s Day. And so they did… The students did beautiful work in the design layout and by hand, began the production of wrapping each of the candy bars themselves with the newly printed sleeves. They turned out fantastic!
Students involved in this Mother’s Day project?
Devon Childers – Blackhawk School District
Trevor Johnston – Freedom Area School District
Stacia Micensik – Ambridge Area School District

Carpentry Students Speak during BVCS General Meeting

Carpentry students, Brandon Hare from Ambridge Area School District , Amos Ramsey, homeschooled student from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and Jacob Simmons, Freedom Area School District were guest speakers during last night’s Beaver Valley Contractors & Suppliers Association General Meeting. These three outstanding students spoke very highly of their instructor, Mr. Dave Liptak, quoting him on several occasions and crediting him for the skills they have acquired while being students in his program. Pandemic or not, these three students have discovered their talents and abilities, with the help of Mr. Liptak and plan to find work in the construction industry as soon as they graduate. Gentlemen, THANK YOU for your character and disposition… you three were remarkable!

GPADA Scholarship Recipient

Huge shout out to Miya Wingard, Automotive Technology student from Western Beaver County School District, who recently found out that she won 2nd place for the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association (GPADA) Scholarship! The amount? $10,000! Currently, Miya works at Beaver County Auto Group in Chippewa and plans to attend CCAC West Hills in the Fall to major in Automotive Technology. Mr. Valaski, Automotive Technology Instructor and Mr. Davis, Instructional Assistant, couldn’t be more happy and excited for Miya as she approaches graduation. They even surprised her with a congratulatory sign and confetti when she walked into the program this morning, which is pretty awesome… Congratulations, Miya! #eliminatingtheskillsgap #letsgettechnical #SkilledTradesROCK #workwithyourhands #wegiveyouthetoolstobuildyourfuture #EducationInMotion

New Technology in Welding

Mr. Consentino is one happy Welding teacher with the new technology recently installed in his classroom. Arranged by BCCTC’s IT Coordinator, Mr. Rodney Davis from Questeq, this monitor is the latest in interactive boards and will help offer a more virtual presence for Mr. C and his students. Many thanks goes out to Mr. Robert McKinley, President/CEO and Mr. Eric Boswer, Business Development Manager from CAN Technology Solutions for the ibt or iBoardTouch installation.  Only 15 more programs to go as Business Information Systems already received theirs 😉. 

Certs, Certs & More Certs!

Health Occupations, AKA, ‘Cairns Crew’, has been extremely busy with making sure they are ‘Certification Ready‘ for work and post-secondary education once this year is over.
Instructor, Ms. Theresa Cairns and Instructional Assistant, ‘Ms. Izz’, have guided their students to obtain industry credentials that will not only enhance their resumes but give them a great head-start in the health profession.

32 out of 32 students in Health Occupations have earned the following certifications from CareerSafe Online:

  • OSHA-10 for Health Care
  • Interview Skills
  • Time Management
  • Cyber Security Essentials (for professional use)
  • Cyber Safety Awareness (for personal use)
Seniors have also earned the following certifications:
  • CPR/AED from the American Heart Association
  • CPR & First Aid from the American Heart Association
  • Stop the Bleed
  • Dining with Diabetes from Penn State Extension – Beaver County
  • Nutrition 101 from Penn State Extension – Beaver County
What’s next for these students? It’s onto preparing for the PA State Registry to become a Certified Nursing Assistant through our The Challenge Program, Inc. (TCP) sponsor, Lutheran SeniorLife. These #futurehealthprofessionals are ready to exhibit their #cairnscare to their future patients!  WAY TO GO, STUDENTS!

Edible Color Wheel? YOU BET!

Cosmetology I students had a lesson today on how to properly mix colors; a lesson very necessary for stylists especially when clients are asking for colored highlights or chemical color changes to their hair.
Our new Instructional Assistant to the Cosmetology program, Mr. Dom Darenkamp, asked our Culinary Arts program to make white icing and provide a typical box of food coloring for this lesson for both the AM and PM Sessions. The Cosmetology I students were responsible to color the icing with primary and secondary colors. When complete, they then made the required tertiary colors.
Bonus to this lesson was that they got to eat their work, something certainly not common for these students when working on their projects and lessons. What a fun way to present the color wheel and make color theory, edible! Thanks, Mr. D!