The South-Western Career Academy is seeking nominations for the first inductions into its Alumni Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame will honor alumni for achievements in their chosen fields, highlight the importance of career-technical education and inspire future SWCA students, said Kris Sander, the school's assistant principal.

The idea for a hall of fame emerged from planning for this year's celebration of Career and Technical Education Month in February, said Nicole Ragusa, a business teacher who serves as SWCA's student council adviser with Rob McConnell.

"We were researching and looking for ways to expand our celebration of CTE Month and found that some schools have created a hall of fame as part of their observance," Ragusa said. "It sounded like an idea that we could latch onto.

"We're trying to enhance our celebration of CTE Month to show our students that the program they've chosen to study at the career academy can help lead them to future success in whatever pathway they choose to follow."

The student council created a banner announcing CTE Month to provide a daily reminder of the celebration for students and to visitors, Ragusa said.

"We had a day when student council members handed out candy to students as they entered the building to remind them they've made 'a sweet choice' to enroll at the career academy," she said.

Teachers also will select one junior and one senior from each of the career academy's 16 programs for recognition during CTE Month, Ragusa said.

"They will be picking students they feel are kind of the 'face' of their labs," she said. "We're leaving the criteria up to the teachers. It may be a student's grade-point average, their commitment and dedication to the program or the progress they've made."

The students will be recognized during a special reception on Feb. 24 in the Jazz Street Cafe at SWCA, Ragusa said.

For the hall of fame, community members are invited to nominate alumni of the SWCA or Paul C. Hayes Technical School, Sander said.

Hayes Technical School was open from 1981 to 2002 at 4436 Haughn Road, now the site of Hayes Intermediate School. The SWCA opened in 2002 at 4750 Big Run South Road.

Nominees must have graduated at least 10 years ago and they must work in the industry or related industry they studied while in school, Sander said.

"We thought a 10-year minimum would be sufficient time to see if they have made an impact in their chosen field and to send a message to our current students about how a career-technical education can lead to success in life," she said.

Deceased alumni are eligible and alumni can nominate themselves.

Nomination forms are available online on the SWCA page at swcsd.us.

The nomination deadline is March 17.

A committee of teachers will review the nominations and select four people as the first hall-of-fame class, Sander said.

"We'll recognize the inductees May 25 as part of our annual Passport Ceremony," she said.

The nominations for those not inducted will remain eligible for three years before they will need to be nominated again, Sander said.

"We're really excited about our new hall of fame," she said. "The word's just getting out and we're already receiving nominations.

"It's a great way to recognize former students for their achievement and to celebrate our school."

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