AVTEC representative speaks with Galena students about tech school opportunities


Photo by Paul Apfelbeck

Lara Loomis during her interview with the Hawk Highlights at SHS on Dec. 4.

By AUTUMN JENSEN-ROEHL, staff writer

AVTEC representative and counselor Lara Loomis presented her school’s program offerings at an assembly for Galena high school students on Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the SHS gymnasium.

The Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) is a post-secondary school in Seward focusing on careers such as welding, nursing, culinary arts, and carpentry.

AVTEC is unique because it’s a small school with teachers who can stay after with the students and help them with whatever assignments they have, Ms. Loomis said at the assembly.

“We want [students] to succeed and live happy and healthy lives,” she said.

Most of her presentation was about the classes at the school and how students can apply.

She said that for some students who come from villages that it may be a bit of a hard transition to go away to school, and the location in Seward can make them feel at home. The staff also listens to students and their ideas, which they then can add on to their other events they may have, she said.

AVTEC requires a ninth grade level of math and reading skills. Training programs can take from to eight weeks to 10 months.

About 85 percent who participate in the programs graduate. Ninety-three percent of students that graduate pursue that career in the future and maintain jobs in that specific field, she said.

Ms. Loomis used the culinary arts program as an example of tuition costs at the school. The tuition in the culinary arts program is $14,472.

There are a few ways to pay for tuition. First, fill out your FAFSA. Then you can talk to your school counselors, get scholarship grants, and apply for loans. After that, you pay a $25 dollar fee for applying.

During an interview with the Hawk Highlights following the assembly, Ms. Loomis said one thing AVTEC is looking for in a prospective student is that they are very dedicated, and an active participant, such as self-motivated, fun person.

One student who attended AVTEC and benefitted greatly from this program was from Bethel, she said. He attended AVTEC because he wanted to help and support his family, including his four younger siblings. At first he chose construction technology, then in the second semester he moved to plumbing and heating.

After he graduated from AVTEC, he began to work for a housing construction company. Using the knowledge AVTEC taught him, he was able to support his family and become the provider for them.

Most of the work at AVTEC is hands-on learning. First, students and teachers discuss the procedure and how to exactly complete a task, then move to another room where they apply the skills they had learned.

Students also may get assigned iPads which may have their books downloaded onto it beforehand. Not a lot of students may have experience with technology, so AVTEC has help available for them so that they can slowly introduce them.

By AARON MUNTER, staff writer

Lara Loomis said in a special interview with the Hawk Highlights that she worked in a prison for three years before joining the AVTEC community.

Ms. Loomis worked as a counselor for one and a half of those years and then as an educator for pre-release for the last half.

She described her career at the prison as “very interesting and stressful.”

One aspect of her job was to be constantly aware for danger and security issues, she said. Ms. Loomis was not allowed to bring a variety of items into her office, as they can be changed into a potential weapon, including clocks, pens, and cans. “I couldn’t bring a toothbrush past security,” she said, “If someone were to take my tooth brush, it could be sharpened and changed into a weapon.”

Simple medication such as Advil also wasn’t allowed in her office. If she need to take these medications, she had to walk through five doors of security.

Her office was contained inside four brick walls without windows. The only time she got to see sunlight was on her way to work.

After three years of working in the prison, Ms. Loomis joined the AVTEC community and became a representative and counselor, and she is still working there today.