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KHS senior places first in Skills USA test
by Elizabeth Rago
KANELAND—Besides having fun and adding an impressive accolade to his resume, Kaneland High School senior Alec Koczka’s reason for participating in the Skills USA program includes fine-tuning his skills as a future electrician, and eventually becoming a commercial pilot. Taking first place in the written portion of the Skills USA Championships in March, Koczka recently traveled downstate to Springfield, Ill., to challenge his hands-on ability in the practical portion of the nationwide test.
Placing second out of 180 students statewide, Koczka’s road to take the Skills USA championship ended in Springfield, but certainly does not stop his mission to gain knowledge before he enters his post-secondary education. With an intent on majoring in aviation mechanics/aviation management at Lewis University in southwest suburban Romeoville, Ill., he said he can’t wait to implement the skills he has learned from the electrician classes at the Fox Valley Career Center.
Offered to students in the Kane County area, the Fox Valley Career Center is meant to prepare high school students for a career in a technical field. By partnering with area businesses and providing opportunities to participate in programs like Skills USA, the students learn necessary skills to help them be more marketable and knowledgeable as they enter the field.
“Skills USA is a great experience and shows me where I need to improve in my knowledge as an electrician,” Koczka said.
Alec’s father, Richard, spoke of the opportunity students who are interested in working as an electrician have at the Fox Valley Career Center. Actual hands-on experience by carrying out necessary maintenance in and around the KHS grounds is required of the students. Richard said he likes the fact that Alec is consistently encouraged to increase his skill level at the Fox Valley Career Center, and appreciates that his son will be immersed into his chosen field before he even hits the workforce.
The Fox Valley Career Center offers career and technical training during the school day for students, as well as internships and job shadowing.
“It’s a great opportunity if your child is interested in pursuing a career in the trades,” said Alec’s mother, Jeanie. “We can see how taking ownership of on-campus projects gives students pride for taking care of their school.”
In addition to actively participating in the Fox Valley Career Center classes, Alec is captain of the Kaneville soccer team and is just hours from completing his private pilot’s license from Fly America.
What’s on the horizon for Alec? Graduation, starting college and literally more time in the air as he is practicing for his first cross-country solo trip. As his senior year of high school comes to an end, the opportunity for Alec’s future as a pilot and experienced electrician has only just begun. Peers, teachers, flight instructors and his parents alike all rally behind the potential of this tenacious and determined young man.
“Our kids are an enhancement to our lives,” Jeanie said with a smile. “Rich and I are so proud of our children, and know they are fortunate to have community programs and a chance to dive into their interests.”
If you are interested in participating in a Fox Valley Career Center program, visit www.foxvalleycc.org or call (630) 365-5113.