A state career and technical education group honored Killeen’s own legislator as the best in Texas for the year.

On a stage at the Killeen ISD Career Center, state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock accepted the outstanding legislator award Nov. 12 from the Texas Industrial Vocation Association.

All around Aycock and those honoring him, high school students at the Career Center documented the event through photography and television, and one gave him a plaque cut in the facility’s carpentry shop.

Welcoming guests to the district’s year-and-a-half-old Career Center, Superintendent Robert Muller said the campus provides a specialized education leading to industrial level certifications.

When the center opened, there was a need for flexibility in course selection and graduation requirements and House Bill 5, which Aycock authored, met that need, Muller said.

Scott Herald, chief career and technical officer, said enrollment is likely to skyrocket from its current 950 students.

Herald said the center has about 50 business partners and is poised to offer job shadowing and practicum experiences for students in the community, leading to industrial certifications and jobs.

TIVA executive director Linda Holcombe said the population is aging and with it the workforce, leading to a need for more welders, plumbers, construction workers, computer programmers, health care workers and other skilled laborers.

“The intent of House Bill 5 is to provide students with meaningful choices and opportunities to fit their interests so that students can be successful in whatever career they choose,” Holcombe said.

In addition to cutting the required 15 end-of-course exams needed for high school graduation to five, the bill allows more course substitution for students seeking workforce readiness.

After the ceremony, Holcombe said she was amazed at Aycock’s determination to meet the needs of every Texas student.

In accepting the honor, the Killeen legislator said the state must provide high-level rigorous education for students entering traditional four-year universities and those headed into the career and technical realm.

“To say one size fits all in Texas on any given day is not reasonable,” Aycock said.

Vaish Jiles, an Ellison High School senior, presented Aycock with a laser-cut metal nameplate in the shape of Texas.

Along with his instructor, Dustin Cloud, Jiles, a construction management student at the Career Center, used a computer program to design the plaque and a plasma cutter to form it.

“It means a lot,” said Jiles of the KISD Career Center, noting that he already completed national carpentry certification.

“It is more than doing work and taking tests here,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to make something that will last. This campus has more of a home feeling to me.”

Thomas Campbell, a Harker Heights High School senior, said he, too, was grateful for the Career Center. “I don’t feel like I’m in school here. Everyone is here for their career. People are professional here.”

Campbell, a student worker for KISD-TV, was operating a camera during the ceremony. He is taking a career preparation class and finished a medical coding and insurance class.

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