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Unearthing TCTC history

Published: Fri, February 8, 2013 @ 12:15 a.m.

Students, staff dig up time capsule with artifacts of 35-year-old school


Raul Kemp, a teacher at Trumbull County Career and Technical Center, unearths a time capsule that was buried in front of the school in 1988. Students and staff unearthed the capsule in a ceremony Thursday. One of the items inside it, inset below in story, was a senior awards program for the Trumbull County Joint Vocational School, TCTC’s original name.

35 years of history goes on display at Trumbull Career and Technical Center

Thursday was a day for remembering two years in the history of the Trumbull Career and Technical Center: 1978, when the school first opened; and 1988, the year students buried a time capsule containing letters and other artifacts.

By Ed Runyan



Thursday was a day for remembering two years in the history of the Trumbull Career and Technical Center: 1978, when the school first opened; and 1988, the year students buried a time capsule containing letters and other artifacts.

The capsule was opened Thursday as part of the school’s 35th anniversary celebration.

In 1978, the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger was 30 cents; a postage stamp, 13 cents; a gallon of gasoline, 63 cents.

“Grease,” starring 24-year-old John Travolta, was a box-office hit; and the first lightweight personal music device, the Sony Walkman, was invented.

But the time capsule — buried 25 years ago — contained more personal reflections from students on what it was like to be 17 or 18 years old in 1988.

Bethany Golan of Warren wrote a letter in which she mentioned several 1988-era concerns.

“I am amazed that anyone is around to read this,” she said. “I figured that some type of nuclear disaster would wipe out billions,” she said.

Golan was among several students who mentioned another hot-button topic at the time. “A disease called AIDS is overtaking our nation like a plague,” she said. Actor Rock Hudson was the first celebrity to die from an AIDS- related illness in 1985.

Holly Bower of Southington, a 17-year-old student in the cosmetology class, focused on a different fear. “There are many problems that a teenager has to deal with,” she said. “The biggest one is the pressure to use drugs.”

Technology has changed the tools used at the vocational school in the 25 years since student Diane Leonard of Southington wrote her letter. “I am sure you will have different equipment and machines than we have,” the junior accounting student said.

“There will probably be many more computers. Right now we have six Apple IIe computers and two IBM Selectric” electric typewriters, she said.

Administrative Assistant Susy Johnson, who has worked at the school since 1980, says the class day at the school has changed dramatically since it began. In the earliest years, students took only one academic class per day with the rest being vocational training. Today, half of the class day is academic and half vocational.

Students can now get up to two years of college credit during their high school career, said Mike Piros, who taught auto mechanics at the school starting in 1978 and served as administrator for 18 years through 2003.

The school took students from about 15 school districts in the beginning and now has students from 19 districts. Its initial enrollment in 1978 was 78 students; today it has 986 students. Enrollment peaked in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession at 1,188 students.

TCTC started its adult-education program in January 1979, said Vicki Thompson, adult education director.

The program now has 44,000 square feet of is own space, but also uses the high school facilities after the high school students leave at 3 p.m. In all, TCTC facilities cover 8 acres.

Bim Turner, administrator for Trumbull County’s federal Workforce Investment Act programs at the county Department of Job and Family Services, said TCTC students “are in good hands. It’s been my experience TCTC offers good training, timely training. As we move into the shale renaissance and manufacturing boom, we are counting on TCTC to provide excellent training at a good cost.”

Students will bury another time capsule later this year.

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