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Vocational Students Recognized for National Award

Oct. 21, 2004 – While young people continue to get a bad rap about the clothes they wear, the music they listen to and the choices they make, there are some teens who are embracing education and laying the foundation for a successful career. On Wednesday, the St. Croix community took time to recognize their achievements and encourage their future success.
In a ceremony, which marked the culmination V. I. Energy Week, high school vocational education students and their instructor were recognized as the best in the Virgin Islands. V.I. energy office officials heaped accolades on the diesel technology class of the St. Croix Educational Complex Vocational and Technical School and presented the class with the 2004 Vincent D. George "Light the Way" award. The award was presented for the class's achievements in championing the cause of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology.
Determined to "take learning out of the classroom," instructor Joseph Schrader embarked on a series of projects with his class involving diesel products. The class made diesel fuel from vegetable oil and hand degreaser soap from the waste by-product. "It’s a closed-loop energy cycle," said Schrader.
Schrader praised the students commending their dedication and commitment to the project. The students spent all their available time on the project including weekends, Schrader said. "It was the students' initiative and hard work that made the difference."
Bevan R. Smith Jr., director of the V.I. Energy Office, presented the class with $3,000. The funds will be used toward the cost of members of the class and Schrader to attend the Automotive Industry Planning Council's (AIPC) Awards for Excellence in Las Vegas in December. The St. Croix school was selected as second runner up in the nation-wide contest.
The diesel technology program received 111.2 points out of 130 in the national competition in which schools from fifty states participated. Twenty advanced to the finals.
Dr. Lauren Larsen, Education Department deputy commissioner, said he was representing Commissioner Noreen Michael. He congratulated the students, the instructor and the school. "We are committed to excellence in education," he said.
The Light the Way award is named in honor of former energy employee Vincent D. George, who died in 2000 from liver failure. George was responsible for instituting new and innovative energy programs in the Virgin Islands. George's parents, Reginald and Virginia George, were on hand for the ceremony.
Schrader was visibly proud of the achievements of his students. "Projects like this are usually found in a university's engineering program," he said.
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