Oklahoma’s educational landscape was virtually unchanged from the late 1800s to the late 1960s.
College was the only option beyond a basic education. Nobody really catered to the vocational interests of people who wanted to be mechanics, machinists and medical personnel. There were no degree programs for carpenters, electricians or welders.
State law in 1966 permitted school districts to form area vocational school districts for just such a purpose. An election was held in January 1968 to choose five people to govern an area school in the west Oklahoma City metro area. The first meeting of the Area Vocational-Technical School District No. 6 board of ed convened Feb. 1, 1968 at the El Reno Courthouse.
Action was swift. By August 1970, buildings were readied for students at what is now Canadian Valley Technology Center. Facilities were built equidistant from high schools so students could drive or be bused to CV Tech for half of the school day.
It’s a winning formula now 50 years in the making. Dozens of additional educational opportunities exist for high school students and adults who may or may not also choose college. Canadian Valley serves a rapidly expanding population across 1,500 square miles, from Rush Springs, 70 miles north to Piedmont.
Sustained growth over the past decade has resulted in a population increase of 28 percent in Canadian County alone. That is tops among Oklahoma’s 77 counties, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. By comparison, the statewide growth rate was a modest 5.5 percent.
Jimmie Vickrey has marveled at the increase during his 15 years serving on CV Tech’s Board of Education.
“The growth that has occurred is the thing I think stands out most,” said Vickrey, currently board president. “Our campuses must expand to fit the needs of a growing number of students.”
Construction earlier this year of a $10 million education wing at the school’s El Reno Campus will allow for the additions of a planned Emergency Services program and Industrial Automation and Robotics Technology program in Fall 2021.
The school’s Cowan Campus, located at SW 15 & Czech Hall Road near Yukon, is in the midst of a $20 million construction project that will make possible more adult education options, including dental assisting, ophthalmology technician and surgical technology.
“My hope is to continue growing and fulfilling students’ needs,” Vickrey said. “Some of the classes we started with in 1970 are long gone and extinct. My vision would be to continue to be open-minded to the needs of an ever changing world and preparing students to step into those occupations.”
Besides the obvious benefit of providing skills education to high school and adult students, businesses also stand to profit from a steady pipeline of skilled labor.
Additionally, CV Tech’s Workforce Development Team provides affordable, customized training to area businesses.
Fellow board member Travis Posey is vice president of HSI Sensing, of Chickasha. The company develops and manufactures high-tech switches, sensors and actuators for the aerospace, energy and health care industries. He considers CV Tech a true business partner.
“The services and training provided as well as the employees we hire from CV Tech are all amazing,” Posey said. “I am honored to serve this fantastic organization.”
The locally elected board of education also includes Penny Jones, of Mustang, Christy Stanley, of Yukon, and Dean Riddell, of Yukon.
Stanley, a Real Estate professional from Yukon, said she is proud of all that CV Tech has accomplished.
“Canadian Valley has enriched the lives of so many over 50 years,” Stanley said. “I can’t wait to see all the exciting things that the future holds for CV Tech’s students and faculty.”
Jones, a Mustang homemaker said CV Tech is the most wonderful thing she has been involved with and added that she loves seeing students advance as they learn by doing. Riddell, a mortgage lender from Yukon, credits CV Tech for making a firm educational statement of excellent service and commitment to students spanning five decades.