West Philly High to Orleans Technical College

Last Thursday on 2/28, Promise Corps at West Philadelphia High School made a very memorable trip to Orleans Technical College, a private technical school run by the JEVS Human Services agency. Nine students attended, and our architecture teacher Jess McCollum kindly volunteered to help chaperone. Our team member Jada Grice took the lead in organizing this trip – thank you Jada!

We started the day at 8am with breakfast generously sponsored by Manhattan Bagels’ end-of-day donation program. The bagels were chewy and pristine, and really helped fuel us for the day.


We arrived late morning at Orleans Tech, a crisp, inviting space, and were greeted warmly by staff at the school We went on to attend a helpful introductory session. We got an overview of the five Building and Construction trades Orleans Tech offers training programs in: Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating, Building Maintenance, Carpentry, Plumbing and Heating, and Electricity. 

or5We also learned that there are expected to be 70,000 new jobs in these fields in the coming years – now is the time to be in the building trades! And as an accredited institution, Orleans Tech is a reliable pipeline towards such careers. Admission to the program has just two prerequisites: a high school diploma and very importantly, PASSION.

Next we toured the various labs and work spaces at the school, buoyed by such exciting training prospects. There was also a career fair going on, so we got to see the lively recruitment process first-hand – a lucky coincidence!

or2Each room was a new adventure. Our guide Dennis showed us the nitty-gritty of how things works, gave industry updates, and shared fun anecdotes. Do you like math and are you good with heights? Then you’d do well in our electricity program. 

For the rest of our visit, we returned to the seminar room where the introductory session was held. Over lunch Promise Corps presented a local workforce module. It was an interactive session about professional networking, job searching, and traditional vs. non-traditional careers. 

“It was a nice trip.”, says Makel, 11th grade. “I’ve visited colleges before but never a technical college. I think I’d do carpentry…I like building with my hands. It looks fun to me, something I would wanna do.” 


– Ivy Tse, College and Career Coach at West Philly High


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