Talk about some epic news.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Roane-Jackson Technical Center was awarded a $50,000 grant through the West Virginia Department of Education’s Division of Technical Education and Governor’s Economic Initiatives. It was one of five such grant awards presented statewide as part of the division’s innovative competition entitled Economic Projects Impacting Communities (EPIC). The goal of the competition is to enhance students’ technical skills and creativity while making a positive impact within their local communities.

Career and Technical Education programs across West Virginia entered the competition by designing project proposals geared toward positively impacting local communities. RJTC’s winning project, “Our Parks: Made Better By Students,” centers around community service. It features numerous enhancements and improvements for parks and other recreational facilities in both Jackson and Roane counties.

“The students and staff at Roane-Jackson Technical Center believe that community service is an important part of the educational process,” said RJTC director Ben Cummings. “Our school has completed numerous projects over the last few years, and the EPIC Grant will continue our school’s involvement in bettering the local region.”

“As a part of Simulated Workplace activities,” Cummings added, “student leaders and staff worked on the paperwork and presentations to make this grant a reality.”

In particular, law and public safety instructor Melissa Wilkinson and co-op coordinator Donald Sheppard worked extensively to guide student leaders through the application and presentation process.

In Jackson County, RJTC’s EPIC project will provide new metal benches, trash receptacles, and signage for Ripley City Park, in addition to a new shade structure for Ravenswood City Pool. In Roane County, RJTC’s EPIC project will target replacing the campfire circle seating at Camp Sheppard in Gandeeville, and installing new picnic tables, metal benches and trash receptacles for Washington Park in Spencer.

Students from various RJTC program areas will be completing the work for the project, which will range from design to fabrication to final installation of equipment.

Student leaders from five of RJTC’s program areas represented the school and their respective CTE Simulated Workplace companies in the competition.

Student leaders included Justeen Brubaker from Cosmetology, Paden Comer from Computer-Aided Drafting, Alex Crihfield from Carpentry, David Dexter from Law and Public Safety, and Erikson Corbin from Welding Technology. All student leaders expressed that they felt fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to participate in the project.

RJTC’s EPIC project will be completed over the next two school years and will involve strong partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. That collaboration has already begun, as instructors, administrators, and dedicated community partners traveled to Charleston to attend the EPIC finalists’ presentation event together.

Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader was among several community partners in attendance during the presentations.

“Roane-Jackson Technical Center’s student presenters were among the best of the best,” Rader commented. “They were confident, eager, knowledgeable and prepared. They definitely gave the impression of being experts in their fields.”

Other community partners in attendance included Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller, Roane County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Duncan, Shannon Cottrill of the Roane County Extension Service, Mark Pauley, manager of the City of Spencer, and Katrena Ramsey of Ravenswood Parks and Recreation Department.

“We are grateful to all of our community partners and look forward to completing projects in Ravenswood, Ripley, Spencer and at Camp Sheppard,” Cummings noted. “In addition, we are thankful for Dr. Kathy D’Antoni, Associate State Superintendent of Schools, for her work in creating this worthwhile program.”