For many 2020 high school and college graduates the future feels uncertain. Finding a job or starting college during a global pandemic is far from a straight-forward decision. But for Chris Daley of Plainfield and Chance Weber of Lisbon, 2020 graduates of Norwich Technical High School, the opposite is true.
“Knowing that I made ties with this company and I can stay with them and have a job right out of high school … I feel more prepared for the world,” Daley said.
Daley and Weber are one and a half years into their four-year plumbing apprenticeship at Speirs Plumbing in Old Lyme. They began working at Speirs two days a week in the spring of their junior year of high school.
“They actually came to the school looking for an apprentice,” Weber said. “Four of us applied and they were so impressed they actually hired both of us instead of just one.”
Unlike a typical public high school in Connecticut, Norwich Tech prioritizes career preparation and entry into the workforce.
“This school knows that we are going out into the workforce, so they definitely prepare you for applying to jobs, writing a resume, cover letter, personal finance. They give you that knowledge to go out into the real world,” Weber said.
For students like Daley and Weber, who never saw themselves continuing on to college, Norwich Tech and other technical schools across Connecticut provide a more practical education.
“Definitely if you don’t know what you’re going to do, I would say go to a tech school,” Daley said. “Even if you don’t like it, you can always go back to your sending high school. But at the tech you get a lot more avenues like plumbing, electric, hair dressing and culinary arts.”
Daley and Weber both chose plumbing because they love the variety it offers on the job each day.
“Every day I can be anywhere from servicing a sink to doing the piping for a brand, new house,” Weber said. “My favorite part is probably the servicing because you never know what you’re going to walk into and how big the job could end up being.”
It’s a lot more than just working on toilets.
“We are working on piping, pitching, venting, heating. It’s a lot of math,” Daley said. “People think you just work on toilets and unclog drains, but you’re building them too, designing the whole interior of homes.”
Despite the long commutes to school and work, despite leaving their childhood friends behind to attend a different high school, Daley and Weber said they would choose Norwich Tech again in a heartbeat.
“Open your eyes to everything and then make an educated decision about where you go to high school,” Weber said.