State-of-the-art career center unveiled at Smithfield High

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SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — Isle of Wight County Schools on Wednesday unveiled a new facility to help students prepare for life after graduation.

Smithfield Foods donated $3 million to help the school system open a new career and tech education facility at Smithfield High School.

“When I came here, we looked at data and about 55 percent of our students were going on to a 4-year college, and that’s wonderful, but what about the other 45 percent? Where were they going? I think we forget about those students sometimes,” explained Isle of Wight County Schools Superintendent James Thornton on the thought behind the idea.

The state-of-the-art, 21,500 square foot space will accommodate five career and technology programs, including manufacturing, engineering, welding, culinary arts and nursing.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting for the newly-renovated career building was held Wednesday morning. 

In the rennovated building, students at Smithfield High School and Windsor High School in Isle of Wight County will develop skills for local high demand jobs. 

“We worked with our business partners up front and researched what are the jobs in the Hampton Roads area, and these were the programs that came out of it. And then we also asked our students what areas they wanted to go in,” said Thornton. 

In addition to a $3 million Smithfield Foods donation, the School Board of Supervisors put in another $7.9 million to complete the project. 

“Ideally it would be a pipeline for future employees if you think about the design of this thing there’s centers for manufacturing engineering and welding in addition to culinary arts and nursing so all of those things almost we could use in our own operations,” said President and CEO of Smithfield Foods, Ken Sullivan. 

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