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First Cohort of High School Welders Earn Certificates at Mattamuskeet

WASHINGTON — Before they even graduate, nine students at Mattamuskeet Early College High School have earned a Certificate in Agricultural Welding through Beaufort County Community College’s agribusiness technology program. The students completed the program over the course of two semesters, and, as early college high school students, they did it all for free.

Dawson Brooks, Douglas Chappell, Bradley Cooper, Michael “Zac” Eakes, Juan Galena-Rojas, Ariel Jordan, Bladimir Mendieta-Magana, Michael Spruill and Emily Swindell-Creque all completed the 17-credit-hour program. They took about two classes per semester starting their sophomore year, including classes on farm maintenance, agricultural law and finance and GMAW/FCAW plate welding.

The program was requested by the Hyde County Board of Education and the Hyde County School District to connect students to the agricultural base of the county. Superintendent Stephen Basnight wanted every student to leave with a certificate.

“We developed this certificate for Hyde County students to address an unmet need,” said Lisa Hill, dean of arts and sciences at BCCC. “Parents asked for a program that both explored agriculture and explored welding.”

“The majority of these students will continue on to earn a degree through our welding technology program in their final year as early college high school students,” said Stacy Jones, the BCCC high school programs liaison who oversees Mattamuskeet Early College High School.

Jones said the college will begin offering new certificates to sophomores at Mattamuskeet, including a Mig/Tig certificate through welding technology and an agricultural applications certificate through agribusiness technology. Students can achieve these certificates as they work toward an associate’s degree, and they guarantee that students leave with a post-secondary accreditation, even if they fall short of an associate’s degree.

Jones teaches a college success prep class at Mattamuskeet and brought the new certificate program to the attention of the class. This certificate program teaches students the skills they need to work on farms in Hyde County, while achieving the discipline needed to master college-level coursework.

Beaufort County Community College began operating an early college high school out of Mattamuskeet School in 2009. Early college high school students attend for five years, and upon graduation can earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree if they have successfully completed all the coursework. This can save students a full year of college, and all the classes are free, so students can potentially earn two years of college credit at no expense to them.

For more information about high school college programs in Hyde County contact Stacy Jones at 252-940-6359. (left to right) Dawson Brooks, Zac Eakes, Michael Spruill, Juan Galena-Rojas, Bladimir Mendieta-Magana, Douglas Chapell, Bradley Cooper, Ariel Jordan and Emily Swindell-Creque.