CHICO — As a freshman, R.J. Marple decided to enroll in the welding class at Chico High. Welding appealed to Marple since it was more hands-on.
Now as a senior, Marple has made the decision to attend Wyotech, a technical college in Laramie, Wyoming. He’ll be studying diesel mechanics and chassis fabrication.
What originally started as an intriguing elective in welding has helped Marple and several other seniors find a post-high school path that fits them.
On May 14, eight seniors from the CTE, or career and technical education, programs at Chico High committed to attend trade programs at both Wyotech and Butte College during a signing ceremony. Chico High teachers Beth Howard and Ronnie Cockrell wanted to host a ceremony honoring the CTE students for their accomplishments.
“These are the pathways that prepare our students for jobs immediately after school. These are the jobs that our society really needs right now.” Chico Unified School District Superintendent Kelly Staley said at the signing ceremony. “It’s very valuable in getting kids ready for the world of work.”
Along with Marple, seniors Dalton Ramay, Micah Penning and Flavio Perez-Contreras will be attending Wyotech. Ben Owen, Colin Hoffman and Josh Amatuccio will be attending Butte College to study in the manufacturing program while Nathanael Alvarez-Prado will be completing the Heating, Vacuum and Air Conditioning program at Butte College.
“I looked at welding and was like it’s something more hands-on and not as academic,” Marple said. “Over the years, I kept getting into welding more and saw that there were more opportunities.”
Micah Penning will be studying chassis fabrication and automotive technology at Wyotech. Penning has been part of the Chico High welding class for the last two years.
“It’s easier for me to focus on this and learn with hands-on stuff rather than paperwork and school. I never did too well with that,” Penning said. “This clicked for me.”
Marple had always been enamored by engines and how things worked. He raced dirtbikes growing up since dirtbikes had always been part of the family.
“I’ve always liked working on engines and working on anything that’s hand-on. I don’t mind getting dirty. And for diesel mechanics, that’s kind of where our world is going to in agriculture,” Marple said. “I figured I’d put myself out there and do something that our world needs.”