Tri-Rivers Career Center opened its doors in August of 1976
Tri-Rivers Career Center has been a significant educational and training contributor to the North Central Ohio area for more than 40 years. Our district was formed in 1973 with the passage of a multipurpose levy to build, equip, and operate a Joint Vocational School—now called a Career Center.
In the beginning, several names were considered, including MAR VO-TECH and GATEWAY. MAR VO-TECH was planned to be a combined high school vocational school and technical college in one building. It was projected to be built on land off State Route 309 near the Marion Depot.
The original project, under the name of GATEWAY, would have formed one of the largest vocational districts in Ohio. It would have included all of Crawford, Morrow, Wyandot, Marion and Delaware counties. This levy effort was unsuccessful and the proposed size of the district was revised.
The first Adult Education classes were held on April 21,1975 in leased space in Marion, Ohio prior to the completion of the school building, in order to meet a critical regional need for welders. The adult welding program continued holding classes in leased space until the Tri-Rivers building was completed and then moved to the Tri-Rivers Career Center facilities at 2222 Marion-Mt. Gilead Road.
The Career Center opened in September 1976 to high school students and at that time moved the adult welding program into the new school. The date of the first adult education course completion/graduation at the main school building was September 10, 1976 (this was a welding class which had started their training in the leased facility and then moved and completed their training at the new Tri-Rivers school building). In October 1976 The Career Center began offering additional programming to adult students. The first date of attendance for these additional Adult Education classes was October 18, 1976.
A.O. Gross, Marion County Superintendent of Schools, served as an interim superintendent to head up a levy campaign featuring the revised district. Voters approved this levy in 1974. As part of the revised planning, Crawford and Delaware counties, along with the Northmor district in Morrow County, were removed from the vocational district. Construction began shortly after the levy approval, and the doors to Tri-Rivers opened in August of 1976.
Charles Giauque, who was the County Superintendent for Knox County, was hired as the first Superintendent of the newly created district. This new district was comprised of 10 schools from Marion, Morrow and Union counties: Cardington, Elgin, Highland, Marion Catholic, Marion Harding, Mt. Gilead, North Union, Pleasant, Ridgedale and River Valley. These schools continue to be part of the district, except for Marion Catholic, which closed.
Upper Sandusky was also assigned by the State School Board to be part of the district. In addition, students from Carey attended through tuition payments in the early years. Eventually, they became part of another district.
Giauque served as superintendent until his retirement in 1983. Dr. Robert Ludwig, who was serving as superintendent at Mohawk Local Schools, was hired and served until 1988 when Jim Craycraft, superintendent at Ridgedale Local Schools, began his tenure. Mr. Craycraft retired in 2002 and was replaced by Dr. Charles Barr, superintendent of Wynford Local Schools. Dr. Barr retired in 2007. Chuck Speelman, former superintendent for Shelby Schools, is the current superintendent.
The name “Tri-Rivers” originated from the three rivers within the district: the Scioto, Sandusky and Olentangy. The original school colors were red, white and blue, then blue and grey. Today the logo is dark blue, light blue and bright green. The logo featuring three incoming white arrows intertwined with three outgoing blue arrows symbolizes the incoming untrained students and outgoing skilled employees.
Tri-Rivers’ flag features interconnecting circles to indicate the collaboration needed to meet the goals of the entire Career Center. The triangular loop represents the three rivers, three counties in our district, and the three components of our programming: adult, secondary and community center. The stars represent the associate schools of the Vocational Education Planning District. The seven circles represent the major groups of people who work together to make Tri-Rivers function: students (adult and secondary), alumni, staff (including school board members), parents and families, advisory committee members (now called Industry Leadership Teams), agencies and community organizations, and business/industry.
The focus of the early years was on a high concentration of vocational training as a first year student’s schedule was a class of English with the entire remainder of the school day being designated for lab and related training. The second year classes included history/government with the remainder being lab and related. Over the years, the focus has changed to an increased number of academic classes to better serve students needs and fulfill the Career Centers mission of lifelong learning. In 1999, $1.25 million was spent to add a science and office wing to the building to help facilitate the additional academic requirements.
Today Tri-Rivers provides robust academic knowledge with powerful technical skills to deliver a competitive advantage.
When the doors to Tri-Rivers opened in 1976, they did so not only for high school students but also for adult students. The first adult education programs consisted of part-time evening classes. Over the years, the offerings have grown to include full-time training programs, customized training for business and industry, RAMTEC (Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative) training, online training, and a variety of assessment services. The Adult Center was the first Career Center in Ohio and possibly the nation, to offer an LPN to RN Transitions program. This program is recognized in Ohio as having some of the highest NCLEX passage rates.
In 1985, a change in focus was recognized when the name of the facility was changed to Tri-Rivers Career Center and Adult Education. This change was made to reflect the emphasis on career preparation for high school as well as adult students. In 2017 as part of our Strategic Plan the Career Center and the Adult Center are under the name of Tri-Rivers Career Center and share the same mission statement: Educate students in an engaging environment for tomorrow’s opportunities in the workforce and community.
Tri-Rivers has served its three primary groups of constituents for 45 years by providing education for high school and adult students as well as providing a community center for the Heart of Ohio area. This service has been recognized by the ongoing support of the students, parents, associate schools, and business and industry.