The Portage Lakes Career Center held its first Signing Day to recognize high school seniors who have chosen to be employed, enlist in the military or enroll in a college.

GREEN  Wednesday was Signing Day for hundreds of local high school seniors.

With pens poised, the seniors sat behind a rectangular table adorned with their school colors and posed for friends and family as they signed their letter of intent.

But instead of committing to further their athletic talents, more than 100 students from Portage Lakes Career Center declared their decision to work for their future employer, to enlist in the military or to enroll in a college or university.

PLCC’s first Signing Day was held in conjunction with SkillsUSA and Klein Tools National Signing Day 2019. PLCC serves high school students primarily from Coventry, Green and Manchester local school districts.

“We have so many signing days for when students commit to a university for athletics,” Portage Lakes Principal Mike Kaschak said. “We felt we needed to celebrate those pursuing the three Es (employment, enrollment or enlistment). … I believe this will become a long standing tradition at PLCC.”

In a style similar to “National Signing Day” events for high school student athletes, seniors were applauded as they announced their post-graduation plans and signed their letters of intent. Roughly 100 of PLCC’s 217 seniors were recognized before a crowd of nearly 100 friends and family, along with representatives from the military branches, local colleges and university and local employers. Kaschak said some students were too shy to participate while others had not yet finalized their plans.

Keynote speaker Michael Muñoz, vice president of youth football and character development at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and son of Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz, reflected on the day he participated in his own Signing Day when he declared that he would play football for the University of Tennessee. He likened the day to the first quarter of a football game.

“Signing Day is great but it’s just the beginning, just the next step to lead to something great,” he said.

Using a tree as an analogy, Muñoz encouraged the students to find their purpose, strengthen their values, love each other and continue to share the fruit of their labor with others.

Students recognized

Among those recognized was Alex Ledger of Hoover High School, a student in the career center’s aviation technology program. He plans to attend Bowling Green State University in the fall to pursue an aviation degree.

Brianna Kellum of Green, a student in the career center’s pre-nursing program, was recognized for enlisting in the Air Force.

Christopher Wokaty of Manchester already has secured a full-time job with GPD Group, an architectural, engineering and planning firm in Akron with locations throughout the United States. He plans to utilize the company’s tuition reimbursement program and enroll part-time in the University of Akron to pursue his engineering degree and eventually obtain his professional engineer’s license.

Wokaty said he appreciated the ceremony.

“It was unexpected,” he said. “It really shows that the school appreciates what we have accomplished.”

Jasmine Misleh, human resource recruiter for GPD Group, said the company recruits four to eight PLCC students a year and has hired dozens of those students full time. She thought the ceremony was fitting.

“I think those students deserve to be recognized,” she said.

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