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Career/tech center turns 40 Tuesday

Jan. 20 was a winter day, much like today in the year 1969. The second term of Chris Johnson’s sophomore year had just begun, and today something new was about to happen.

There was a new school in the county, and some of Johnson’s classmates and students from other schools would be going there for a half day. Although he didn’t know it at the time, his future was about to change.

“This new school was then a brand new concept that gave high school students the opportunity to gain vocational skills,” Johnson said. “I always had an interest in radio, electronics and science, so this seemed like a great idea.”

As he stepped off the school bus that day, Johnson was full of excitement and looking forward to a different approach to his education.

“You see, I was not a straight A student,” he admitted. “In fact, I had failed a couple of subjects and, like most sophomores, was more interested in girls and anything else but school.”

Johnson had registered for the radio and TV repair course then taught by L.C. Ray. That day changed the direction of his life and started his career in electronics.

At the Chilton Area Vocational School (commonly referred to as “the trade school”), now named W.A. “Bing” LeCroy Career/Technical Center after its first director, Johnson learned the basic theory of electrons and the math, science and physics that electronics consists of. From those basics, he was able to advance in the fast growing and ever-changing field of electronics.

“It allowed me to gain many certifications, including the highest license class issued by the Federal Communications Commission,” Johnson said. “This knowledge opened many doors of opportunity for me in the fields of communications and broadcasting, including becoming co-owner of a communications company and FM radio station.”

In 1993, after Ray’s retirement, Johnson found himself again stepping into his future as he stepped out of his car into that same parking lot the bus had parked in some 24 years earlier. This time, he was entering the school for a job interview to become the electronics instructor.

“Teaching required some additional education, so here I am a 40-year-old back in college and starting a new career,” Johnson recalled.

Not it’s Jan. 20, 2009, and Johnson has completed his additional education and has taught for the past 16 years. Today marks the 40th anniversary of the day he stepped into his future, and the opening of what would become LeCroy Career/Technical Center.

“There is none prouder today than yours truly, the first student, and now instructor and assistant director of W.A. ‘Bing’ LeCroy Career/Technical Center — the school that changed my life and the lives of thousands of students for the past 40 years.”