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Wheeling High School Hosts First ‘Transportation Day’

Published September 28, 2022
By Noah Festenstein | Journal & Topics

Students from across Township High School Dist. 214 traveled out of class to Wheeling High School’s west parking lot for their first ever “Transportation Day” highlighting employment opportunities Friday, Sept. 23.

This event spanned over three hours starting at 10 a.m. on what was a beautiful fall day. Over 50 transportation entities, colleges, and employers set up shop in the high school lot for students to ask questions and explore potential employment options. This included an array of sports cars, military and police vehicles for students to see.

“Everything from tooling to the manufacturers to the dealerships, there is a need for employment,” Wheeling Associate Principal Dan Weidner said. “I said to the manufacturers, ‘we have the kids, how do we create better connections between the industry partners and the students?’”

Weidner found the solution through multiple partnerships that began in spring, culminating in an event that many area transportation facilities wanted to get involved with. All forms of transportation were present, highlighting ground, air and water.

“We came up with this idea of what happens if we reach out to a couple partners to see if they’d be interested in pulling a car or two behind Wheeling High School, and we’ll invite some kids out and we’ll be able to connect them,” Weidner said. “This then blossomed, blossomed and blossomed. We then reached out to the general Wheeling community, reached out through our different high schools, and we kept getting ‘yes we want to come, yes we see that need.’”

Airline companies, tooling, manufacturers, auto dealerships and services, National Guard and even the Marine Corps were there to inform students on how they can transition into these fields after high school.

Students from all Dist. 214 schools were present, to take part in Wheeling’s effort to distribute information about the transportation industry.

“I have jumped into the back end of a couple conversations between our partners and our students, and our students are asking the right questions of, you know, how do I actually get involved? What the next steps are,” Weidner said. “They are figuring out how they can discover their future, and how they can lay out that path before them.”

Other features during Transportation Day included a flight simulator setup inside the Wheeling High School robotics lab geared with plane steering wheels to accurately depict what it is like to fly a plane. Virtual reality was used to simulate car repairs in the school’s auto shop.

In addition, students were given the opportunity to take a shuttle bus to Chicago Executive Airport to talk with pilots and personnel there to discover aerial opportunities with their aviation academy.

“We are maxing out on our parking lot size here today, but I think that is a great problem to have,” Weidner added. “If we can have more students, more partners making authentic connections, that is exactly what we are all about.”

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