For far too long, students who attended the Carbon County Career & Technical Institute (formerly the Carbon County Vocational-Technical School) have carried a stigma that they were often inferior in the classroom – youngsters who couldn't cut it in the academic world.

And for long too long that has been an unfair analysis of these students. Hundreds over the years have prospered in the school's setting, and used the knowledge and technology they learned to go out in the world and fashion a successful living, utilizing the trades they have learned.

But no matter how successful, or how excellent the training was, the stigma often remained.

Welcome to the year 2010.

This week the technical institute opened portions of a 33,000-square-foot expansion, and students made their first visits to three new math classrooms, a science classroom, an English classroom, and a Special Education classroom. It's all part of a massive expansion project aimed at bringing the school up to present standards. The new additions rival that of any other technical school in the state.

The school is now state of the art.

Soon, the expansion will continue as additional classes in cosmetology and carpentry, and a new library and media center are relocated.

Two other technical areas will be implemented – a drafting class scheduled for 2011, and perhaps a protective services field that can lead to careers in E.M.T. and security.

The new wing is part of a $17 million three-part expansion.

The school, a vital part of Carbon County since it was built in 1966, hasn't had any major renovations since then, so the project is long overdue. It will now stand as a tribute to advanced education for the participating school districts.

"It's great for Carbon County to have a modern facility like this for technical education," said Dave Reinbold, administrative director at the school. "It was much needed. This building was built in 1966 and there has not been a major renovation since."

It's a coincidence that news of the opening of the expanded area of the school broke at the same time as other good news was announced by the Technical Institute. Recently, a group of 40 students from the school traveled to Hershey and competed in two days of intense competition at the annual DECA state competition.

Not only did they compete, but they brought home a home a bundle of medals – 54 to be exact – in almost every field of competition. It was a great showing, and the number of awards won exemplify the superior training these young people are receiving.

In all, it's been a great week for the Technical Institute. And we're sure it's only a small sample of more great things to come.

The need for people who are experts in the trades is greater than ever. It's schools like the Carbon County Career & Technical Institute that can offer the training necessary to fill and replenish these vital occupations.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com