BHP readies students for manufacturing.

PositionBelton-Honea Path High School

A former weight room at Belton-Honea Path High School is buzzing with the sound of manufacturing equipment instead of the clanging of barbells.

This year the school launched an Introduction to Manufacturing course. The elective course provides students with training in the skills required by manufacturers in the state. In addition, Tri-County Technical College has created a career pathway for the students. Seniors at the high school can take one class in the fall at Tri-County Tech, one in the spring, then one in the summer, combined with a work program, and finish with a certificate of work for manufacturing, according to Richard Rosenberger, superintendent of Anderson School District 2.

"We have done extremely well with our graduation rate; it's hovered around 90% the last couple years. But what skills are the students walking out with? Yes, they are college ready and can go to college, but if the workforce is demanding manufacturing skills, we have to prepare the students," Rosenberger said.

Rosenberger said it is vital to train students in various skills since so many manufacturing companies are coming into the state.

According to the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, there are more than 5,000 manufacturing businesses in the state; and manufacturing's share of South Carolina's gross state product is $35.16 billion. That's 16.8% of the state's entire GDP.

With a $300,000 budget, the high school began last summer getting the manufacturing room ready. Students and staff alike worked during their free time to get it finished by the start of the school year. Equipment in the classroom includes a CNC laser engraver/cutter, 12" X 36" metal lathe, a metal milling machine and a Toyota forklift. In addition, various trainer kits will be used to teach pneumatics, hydraulics, programmable logic controllers, mechanical systems and electrical circuits, according to a news release.

Junior Hunter Richey was among those taking the lead in getting everything set up for the class.

"I like the hands-on aspect of it. You get to come in here and work with your hands and you don't have to sit in a class all day," Richey said. "My whole family is in agriculture. Both of my sisters went through FFA before this and I'm an officer with FFA right now, but I'm going to spend more time in here (the manufacturing room)."

Rosenberger said his district has "probably one of the best career centers in the state," but four high schools share it.

"A mechatronics class...

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