Tech Center

Many high school seniors are preparing to make that next big step in their lives, heading to college, but college isn't the only road to success for some graduates.

David Wilson owns and operates Flips Custom Paint and Body Shop in Chipley. He says his dream started in a classroom.

David says, "In my sophomore year at Chipley High School I started attending Washington-Holmes Vocational School. I completed two years of training there where my instructor, Mr. Jerry Harrell, got me a job at a local body shop."

Washington-Holmes Technical Center is not just about automotives. This school that started in 1967 with nine programs and 10 teachers is responsible for training some of the cosmetologists and drafters in this community.

Former State Rep. Ralph Carter remembers seeing a statewide need for vocational training and doing something about it.

Carter says, "A light went up in there and I offered and amendment to the Constitution creating an area vocational training and technical center in the 1963 session, and it eventually passed."

Because of that, former students and staff members came together Thursday afternoon to celebrate 40 years after Washington-Holmes Tech was approved to become a school.

Jerry Harrell, a WHTC instructor, says, "In fact, 18 of the 20 people in my family have went through this school. Seven have completed the nursing program, and auto body runs second with five."

After 40 years of growth, Washington-Holmes now has over 25 courses of study. Schools like this continue to fuel the workforce, and in David Wilson’s case, fulfill a dream.

"If it hadn't been for the school, I may not have gotten the job I got when I got started in it, so I owe a lot to Washington-Holmes Technical Center."

When classes started at Washington-Holmes Technical Center in 1967, tuition was $20 to $40 a semester. In 2004 it was $980 a semester.