Older alumni in the Marinette and Menominee area like to talk about the good old days when vocational education was a high priority in high school education. As a matter of fact, community business leaders have discussed it privately and publicly, too. As we understand it, the computer surge and the high costs of voc-ed equipment at a time public schools were challenged with tough budget decisions, had a lot to do with the decline in vocational education.

A Marinette Middle School Technical Education class has shown us that mechanical education still has life. Five students from the class of teacher Tom Karban recently won second place in a potting table-building contest conducted by the Brown County Home Builders Association. The teacher and his students earned $300 in prize money, compliments of the association, for their efforts. The money goes to the middle school’s technical education program.  

The students and their instructor launched their project in early January and completed it in time to compete in the Home Builders Association contest at the Home Expo display at the KI Center in Green Bay Jan. 24-27. It took about three weeks to complete the work. And let the record show the kids and their instruct didn’t only work on their project during school time. They spent weekends and recess time making sure their entry would make the competition. 

The competition included six other area middle school potting tables for show attendees to vote on either in person or online. Karbon’s “Whiz Kids” won second place laurels in both the people’s choice and builder’s choice categories. To demonstrate the impact of the contest, Mari McAllister-Charles, executive director of the Brown County Home Builder’s Association, came to the classroom Friday, Feb. 1 to present the class with a plaque and the $300 check. The association also gave the school two new electric saws and several other wood-working power tools.  

The potting table featured metal wheels, which were welded by Kylei Mueler, an eighth-grade student in the class. Her four teammates were Isiah Beaudo, Harrison Chenier, Tanner Fayta and Ethan Techmeier. All of the material for the impressive-looking potting table was donate. 

Congratulations to Mr. Karbon, the five-person team and their classmates for letting us know vocational education — excuse us — technical education — is still around. Good luck at the 2020 Brown County Expo.