WILMINGTON — Laurel Oaks Career Campus formally unveiled its gleaming, two-year $42 million renovation and expansion project with an open house, dedication and ribbon-cutting Wednesday afternoon.
Construction began two years ago on a project to renovate and expand the Wilmington campus — which primarily serves students in Clinton, Fayette and Highland counties — including a structure to connect the two main campus buildings, increasing safety and security while providing new space for students to work and study.
The building includes renovated career labs and classrooms for the school’s 17 career programs from Animal Science and Management to Dental Assisting to IT Academy to Welding; dedicated spaces for students to meet and collaborate on projects; an expanded commissary to serve the growing enrollment; and a new lab to house an HVAC program for high school students starting in fall 2022.
Several hundred people were present at the open house including special guest Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran.
“This is a great day,” said DeWine. “What an amazing building. It’s phenomenal.”
He said students can be excited about learning at Laurel Oaks and they have great opportunities at the facility, not only due to the physical offerings, but due to the quality of instruction and variety of opportunities.
“Great Oaks and Laurel Oaks have so many career paths,” DeWine said. He pointed out that he talked to several teachers and could see the knowledge and enthusiasm they possess.
He also pointed out that Ohio is No. 1 in the Midwest in many respects in the areas of gaining jobs and attracting new companies. “The future of this state is great,” he said.
Speakers included Great Oaks President/CEO Harry Snyder, board chair Bill Ferguson, and Laurel Oaks Dean of Instruction Kevin Abt.
Along with more typical career-technical programs such as welding, cosmetology, dental assisting, digital arts and design, and others, the campus also offers equine science and management as well as aviation maintenance.
Great Oaks Career Campuses celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2020. It has four campuses and serves 36 school districts. An estimated 40,000 high school graduates got their start at Great Oaks.