Utica Shale Academy gets grant for program

SALINEVILLE — The Utica Shale Academy has received a mini-grant to help prepare students for a career in the oil and gas industry.

The community school, which includes students in grades ninth through 12th and is based at Southern Local High School, earned a $600 best practice grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center to assist with its welding program.

George Ash, the center’s CEO, presented a check during the Nov. 7 academy board meeting. He said more than 20 grants were approved this year.

Eric Sampson, the academy’s administrator, said the funding will be used to purchase materials for a welding library. The library is expected to benefit roughly 65 pupils. Sampson said Miller Welding Education packages and training tools will be acquired. It will help supplement current welding students with what they are learning at the New Castle School of Trades while future students could use the resources to gain an understanding of welding prior to starting the sessions.

The school, which is sponsored by JCESC, has expanded its curriculum by partnering with NCST, and students from Southern Local and the satellite campus at Columbiana High School began welding training at the East Liverpool campus this fall. They could earn 250 total hours of credit to obtain welding certification. They would earn two quarters of credit if they want to complete the program.

“JCESC began the Best Practice Grant program to have a direct impact on student learning. Each year the committee reviews dozens of applications for both innovation and potential impacts on student learning,” said Chuck Kokiko, JCESC superintendent “Utica Shale Academy was created to be an inventive learning program aimed at meeting specific oil and gas-related needs. JCESC is pleased to provide the grant to allow staff to continue to be pioneering in their teaching and learning practices.”

Now in its third year of operation, USA is available to students in grades ninth through 12th who live across Ohio. Graduates receive a high school diploma, certificates and college credit options offered through Eastern Gateway Community College.

The service center has given 165 grants during the past decade to the Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Indian Creek Local, Harrison Hills City, Southern Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City school districts and the academy.