Senior Recognition 2024 (6:30pm on May 16)

Senior Schedule for Thursday, May 16

Your day will start in the Multi-Purpose Room (Cafeteria)

8:30am – Welcome & Breakfast Announcements – Mr. Solis

8:50am – Farewell Speech – Mr. Solis

9:00am – Top Tradesman/Principals Award – Mr. Solis/Mrs. Ross

9:15am – CTSO Awards – Mrs. Ross

9:25am – Housekeeping – Mrs. Ross/Mr. Solis 

9:35am – Senior Group Photo

9:45am – Load Buses for Coliseum

10:00am – Arrive at Marion Coliseum

12:10pm – Depart Coliseum for TRCC

12:25pm – Arrive at TRCC & Receive Ordered Lunch in MPR

12:40pm – All Dismissed


5:30pm – Staff and students arrive at the Marion Coliseum for checkin and lineup.

6:00pm – Processional commences. 


David Willey receives 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award

Outstanding Alumna—David Willey
Engineering 2000


“Ask me how a toolbox changed my life.”

This is something David Willey asks his students every year. You’ll soon find out why.

When Mr. Willey, now 41, started at Tri-Rivers Career Center in the 2017-2018 school year as the Construction Trades Academy Instructor, he said, “I want to create the best construction program in Ohio.” This wasn’t just a pipe dream; Mr. Willey had a plan, the passion, and the energy to make it happen.

Growing up in rural Prospect, Ohio, Mr. Willey enjoyed building things with his dad. His dad instilled in a young David a passion for building and using his hands. He found that he loved the experience of creating something that will last not only a lifetime, but several lifetimes.

He attended Elgin Schools through the tenth grade, then transferred to North Union. He chose to major in Engineering at Tri-Rivers—the area career center—his junior and senior years. He enjoyed playing sports and fishing the riverbanks of the Scioto. He also dreamed of building his own home someday. He was a young man with a mission.

After graduating he was accepted into a 4-year union carpenters apprenticeship program and studied construction management at Columbus State. He would continue to follow in his dad’s footsteps becoming a heavy highway/commercial carpenter for Kokosing Construction Company and later a general carpenter foreman for George J. Igel Company—both companies are highly respected companies known for their superior construction work.

Mr. Willey’s construction career was going so well, and he had learned so much in the industry that he eventually decided he wanted to share his knowledge. He wanted to instill the same passion he has for building in young people. He wanted to be sure they have amazing opportunities and exceptional training.

Accepting the Construction Trades Academy (CTA) teaching position at Tri-Rivers was just the first step. He then earned his teaching license through the University of Toledo. He also made connections with companies he’d worked with to build a strong Advisory Committee of 27 professionals from the industry. These individuals know the high level of training that Mr. Willey is providing students and respect his hands-on, full commitment approach to preparing them for successful careers in construction. They also support his program with their expertise, time, and donations.

“David Willey is truly a teacher of an art, a family man, a tradesman by heart, and a friend,” said Jon Fetter, owner of Fetter Brothers Construction and an Advisory member for Mr. Willey’s Construction Trades Academy program.

Fetter met Mr. Willey four years ago.  “We decided to work together, utilizing his Construction Trades’ students in our company, and mentoring them after hours. I went to his classroom and observed what he was doing there. I saw that Mr. Willey and I have the same passion and values within the construction trade. I have worked with his students, and each year they are phenomenal. You can see the impression he has on them. He is a great all-around leader,” said Fetter.

With Mr. Willey’s connections and partnerships, the CTA program has grown from around 20 students in the Level 1 and 2 programs to more than 100 students in the Construction Trades 10 (preconstruction), Level 1 and Level 2 programs. Mr. Willey utilizes tradesmen from the field that he knows to provide specialized training such as Computer Aided Drafting (CAD). Eventually an aide and an additional instructor were added. The program outgrew its space and now occupies two additional labs and has an outdoor area for large equipment training.

But wait, what about the toolbox? The real reason the program has grown. Each year Mr. Willey tells new students to ask him about his toolbox. He says, “Ask me how a toolbox changed my life.” The students ask and quickly learn the tools are not just the tools of the trade, but the tools that will help them in life to become great people, great family members and great members of the team in whatever career they choose.

He is there for his students not only during class but after school as well. On Friday nights, you’ll find Mr. Willey at a student’s football game or another event supporting them. Even when they graduate, he remains their mentor.

Mr. Willey believes every student deserves a chance…and a second chance and maybe a third. He guides and supports his students through difficult situations. He makes them accountable and teaches them to learn from good and bad experiences. He helps them to grow personally and in their chosen career paths. He is there for them.

He works hard to ensure every Senior in his program achieves his/her “E”—enrollment, employment, or enlistment. The network he has built with contractors, as well as the apprenticeships he’s promoted and the partnership he’s created with Columbus State take time to cultivate and maintain. But many of them worked with Mr. Willey when he was out in the field and know his quality of work and now his quality of teaching. They trust the training he is providing. They know it allows his students to enter the workforce at a high level. They are ready to hire them!

He and his students also provide hands-on Career Exploration Workshops to teach the younger students and 4-H club members in our area about the construction trade—electrical, concrete, formwork, carpentry, and heavy equipment operation. He also now teaches Construction Management at Columbus State where he has forged a partnership that allows his students to earn college credits while in high school.

With the support of industry advisory members and the community, he has enhanced the heavy commercial construction area of the Construction program. Because of his planning, our young men and women are learning to operate heavy equipment and choosing that pathway to help fuel the high demands of the industry.

At Tri-Rivers we talk a lot about working hard, playing hard and giving back. Mr. Willey teaches his students the importance of not only learning a trade but using your skills to give back to the communities where you live. Some of the community service projects utilizing Construction Trades Academy students’ skills, include concrete pouring for the Huber Museum, Marion Downtown Inc. projects, construction at the Marion Women’s Club Home, building a pavilion at the Tall Grass Trails, completing projects at our associate schools, and building a pavilion for the Senior Center. For this project Construction Trades Academy was awarded the 2021 Community Service Award from the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc.

Everything he does, he does from his heart. He puts 110% into every aspect of his life. He always volunteers to help with projects at our school and to be on committees—if they are working committees because he is not one sit still. He is also quick to thank others and to send notes of thanks.

Mr. Willey always says, “I could not be more thankful to teach and to be a father to my two daughters and raise them with my wife on our family farm.”

David Willey has not only built the best construction program in Ohio, but he has built strong young men and women.

Mr. Willey, we—students, staff, administrators, community members— couldn’t be more thankful that you chose to leave your very lucrative career to become a teacher.  What you have done and continue to do is priceless.

By Ellen Messenger

Thomas Poorman is an Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Thomas Poorman,
HS Engineering 2017 & Adult Education Apprenticeship Classes.

Introduced by Mark Edington, left,  of RAMTEC.

Darian Curren 2023 Outstanding Alumni

Outstanding Alumna—Darian Curren, Adult Education, LPN 2011.

Dakota Elswick recognized as Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Dakota Elswick
Welding 2017

“Good Evening, I am Levi Retterer and I have the honor of introducing Dakota Elswick for the Tri Rivers Outstanding Alumni award. Dakota and I share the privilege of teaching the high school welding program together and I am proud of her for earning this recognition. Dakota started her welding career at a young age in Future Farmers of America, and then decided to complete the welding program at Tri Rivers during her junior and senior years.

She often talks about how she decided between Cosmetology and Welding, and in my opinion our great trade is better due to the decision she has made. Dakota is an Excellent role model and mentor, especially to the female students in the welding program. We have a large number of female welding students in our program currently and an even larger number enrolled for the upcoming year which I have no doubt is due to Dakota being a leader in the program.”

Staff and friends of Dakota often reminisce about when Dakota was a student here.  She would come into the lab still wearing her cheerleading uniform from her home school, change into work clothes and get to work to refine her craft. That tradition carries on to this day, as Dakota often out welds everyone in that lab with fingernails that make me wonder how she can fit a pair of gloves on over them.

Her skills and abilities rival many experts in the field, and she carries herself like a true professional in the classroom. Dakota is also a devoted mother to her two children, Hunter and Harper alongside her husband Shawn who is also a graduate of the welding program. She is a friend to many and a passionate educator. I count myself lucky to work with such a great person. 

Congratulations on this well deserved honor.

Clayton Tackett honored as 2023 Outstanding Alumni

Outstanding Alumna-Clayton Tackett
Auto Body & Collision Repair 1985

Growing up in Marion, Clayton Tackett always loved cars.  His parents provided him with the basics, and instilled in him an understanding of the value of work.  One of Clayton’s first jobs was delivering papers on Marion’s west end… which conveniently allowed him to keep an eye on developing hot rod projects in his neighborhood.  He read all of the car magazines and dreamed of one day having the talent of some of his heroes.

School?  He did not love that quite so much.  In fact, he wasn’t even sure he would finish it.

Enter Mr. Wayne Stewart and the Auto Body and Collision Repair program.  These game changers expected him to “be amazing” long before it was ever a tagline.  In 1985, he became an esteemed Tri-Rivers graduate and went off to work.

This story could end right now and be a win.  But it became clear that he was different, and he quickly found out that difference was in demand.

So, he opened his own business, Kustom Kolors, to offer innovative custom design and painting for one-of-a-kind projects.  He quickly realized that he could leverage his own skills by building a great team and collaborating with others.

These traits — and his leadership and vision – are demonstrated in the work he and his team did creating custom work in collaboration with Baja Boats. With names like “Poker Face”, “Split Decision”, “Shake and Bake”, and “Lucky 7s”, these boats became famous in their own right and have been featured in national boating magazines like Power Board, Hot Boat and the like.

His auto work is known for that same commitment to quality.  As just an example, there is a 1971 Pontiac that has taken local car shows by storm in the past year, including “Best of Show” at the Wings of an Angel RISE car show.  This car, featuring Clayton’s work, will be on the promotional materials for the 2023 event, including t-shirts.

Clayton contributes to the community in a variety of ways.  Specifically, within his career field, he designed the look for the repurposed Marion City School bus used for the mobile summer food program.  The bus is an integral part of feeding thousands of kids each summer throughout the city.

He also provided support to members of the American Red Cross/MCI Branch by donating much needed equipment and feedback to their painting program.

With others, he has also donated time, expertise and talents to provide hands on training in the art of custom painting, airbrushing, pinstriping and highlighting to students in Tri-Rivers Collision Repair and Automotive Technology classes.

Clayton continues to paint every day, but has also ventured into other businesses and non-profits that require that same level of customer service, commitment to quality, and attention to detail

In 2017 when he became co-owner of one of Marion’s iconic businesses, Clayton immediately updated his title to “caretaker” of the OK Café and, with a great team, helped return it to its former glory — kicking out great pizza, cold brews, and showcasing local live music.

Clayton, along with his partner, also own a low power, non-profit radio station.  True Blues 97.5 is the only all blues station in the state of Ohio.  The proceeds fund a local non-profit, “Marion Makes Music”, which provides free music education services to children in Marion County, Ohio.

Clayton is quick to point out that none of this could have happened without help from others.  Something he tries to pay forward.  His Dad, Tom Lusch, Wayne Stewart (Tri-Rivers instructor), Pat Regules, Lester Smith, Pete Miller, and Mike Nicolosi were all great influences and advisors as he established his business.  He also emphasizes the important role that his wife Nicole and his family have played in any personal and professional success that he has achieved.

No one can really ever know all of the ways that he has contributed to his field and to others – and that is exactly the way he wants it.

Clayton, this recognition is hard earned and well deserved.  Thank you for what you do.

By Tarina Rose







Michael Bodine II Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Michael Bodine II
Engineering Drafting 1994

Michael Bodine is leaving his mark on Marion and Central Ohio, literally. The 1994 graduate of Tri-Rivers’ Engineering & Drafting program has been a part of many critical infrastructure improvements to Central Ohio. Plus, his brilliance in branding, graphic design, photography, videography, and commercials can be seen all around Marion and beyond!


Some areas of critical improvements that he has worked on include working with:

The New Albany Company—the Amazon Distribution Center, Meta Data Center (which is Facebook), and Google.  Mike worked on Improvements to the area to help accommodate these facilities.

For The Ohio State University, he worked on Infrastructure improvements, the Cannon Drive relocation and renderings.

At Miami University – he worked on a roadway design for campus to help improve the  traffic flow.

And, He has worked on countless others.

Michael has also been involved in engineering projects for the City of Bucyrus, including their Downtown Park Design and Conceptual layouts. And if you’ve seen that, it’s beautiful! The park is a focal point for that community.   He has done countless layouts for subdivisions all over central Ohio and numerous expansions of Industrial Parks for economic development in central Ohio.

In Marion his Graphic Designs, Videography, and Conceptual Layouts have helped to develop Founders Park in the Downtown. His Branding and Design is evidenced at Nathan’s Barbershop, Taste of Memphis, Attaboys, Harding Harbor Seafood, The Paisley Peacock, Marion Police Department, Marion MPACT Program, and Marmet.

He has also done Videography for Marion Technical College, Marion Children Services, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Whirlpool Corporation, Day One Integrative Services, Habitat for Humanity, Payne’s Pizza, Taste of Memphis, Attaboys, Harding Harbor Seafood, Nathans Barbershop, Cooper’s Bowl, Main Squeeze, Charleston Place, Infinite Inflatables, Brave Woman Boutique, The Door Guys, Northern Ohio Fire Prevention, Golf Cart Guy, Bowstring Bar and Grill, Corey’s Stump Grinding, Hessler’s Screen Printing, Marmet, Marion Police Department, Mathews Honda, Mathews Dodge, Pop’n & Roll’n, Nationwide – Douce Agency, HER Realtors, Doyle’s Auto Repair, Marion Public Library, KCI Realty, Paradise Park, Sansotta’s Fresh Italian, Marion City Schools, Marion Public Health Dept, Marion County Dispatch Center. Just to name a few…The list goes on and on.  (hold up the book)

Michael’s journey in the Civil Engineering field has worked well with his passion for graphic design and videography.

He also enjoys volunteering. He donates his time to help with designs to promote the city of Marion and local businesses. He has made considerable contributions to the Marion City Police Department. He has also used his photography skills to promote several local businesses through social media.

We thank Mike for being on the advisory board for our Interactive Media program and for being a mentor to Tri-Rivers’ students.

Mike, we admire your passion, your professionalism, and tireless efforts to better Central Ohio. You are truly a TRCC success story, and we are proud of you.

By Ellen Messenger


Congrats to Adult Education’s Industrial Maintenance Grads

Congratulations to the 2023 Adult Education Industrial Maintenance Graduates—Owen Blanton, Dillion Brown, Justin Campbell, Charles Curren, Tammie Dial, Kelly Keller, Joshua Kirk, Moe Min Win, Jarrid Miracle. Not pictured: Ethan Hollenbaugh, Wesley Troutman and John Webber. You are ready to work with almost a year’s worth if training.

The Industrial Maintenance Training Program at Tri-Rivers provides the skills necessary to perform industrial maintenance tasks in today’s manufacturing operations.

This is a complete curriculum. Our professional instructors give you hands-on training in each of our classes—Intro to Robotics, Basic Welding, Advanced Welding, HVAC training, Basic Electricity and Electronics, Introduction to Computers and Hydraulics, Pneumatics, PLC’s, Machine Tools and more. We’ll give you the knowledge and skills to get you prepared for the 21st century.

You’ll do more than read a textbook. You will design, build, test and troubleshoot. You’ll demonstrate your knowledge. Be prepared to learn!

Click Here for program details.

If you live in central Ohio and want hands-on learning—Come to Tri-Rivers!

Schedule for Seniors May 18/Senior Recognition 7pm

Senior Schedule for Thursday, May 18

Your day will start in the Multi-Purpose Room (Cafeteria)

8:30 – Welcome & Breakfast Announcements-—Mr. Solis

8:50 – Farewell Speech—Mr. Solis

9:00 – TRCC Program Trivia—Swag Bag: Mr. Solis

9:15 – CTSO Awards—Mrs. Lucas

9:25 – Housekeeping—Mrs. Lucas

Thank you to Chef Branam and  cafeteria staff for a delicious breakfast!

Bus Assignments – Look at the table chart for your “Block color” bus assignments to and from the Coliseum.

9:35 – Senior Group Photo
Depart from the Multi-Purpose Room (Cafeteria) through the front doors in an orderly fashion to the TRCC digital sign at the front of the pond/property where we will have our Senior Group Photo. Please stay away from the pond and the highway traffic.

9:45 – Load buses for Coliseum.
Once our Senior photo is complete, we will move to the buses for loading to transport to the Coliseum for practice.

10:00 – Arrive at Marion Coliseum for practice

Depart Coliseum for TRCC
At the completion of practice, you will load onto the same bus and return to TRCC for dismissal.

Arrive at TRCC-Receive Ordered Lunch—MPR

All Dismissed

Students arrive at the Marion Coliseum for Senior Recognition at 6pm
The event starts at 7pm


Tri-Rivers empowers students with Teach Arts Ohio grant

Caption: Tri-Rivers Interactive Media students had the unique opportunity to work closely with professional illustrator, Jerzy Drozd, above, to develop their storytelling and artistic skills. 


Tri-Rivers Career Center’s Interactive Media program recently completed a highly successful program funded by the Ohio Arts Council’s Teach Arts Ohio grant, according to Josh Ebert, one of the program’s two instructors.

“The grant awarded with public funds provided by the state enabled the school to bring in a resident artist to teach our students the art of visual storytelling through creating and publishing mini-comics,” explained Ebert.

Over the course of one semester, students in Tri-Rivers’ Interactive Media program had the unique opportunity to work closely with professional illustrator, Jerzy Drozd, to develop their storytelling and artistic skills, said Jeff Davidson, also an Interactive Media instructor.  “The program was highly successful, with our students not only learning valuable technical skills but also gaining confidence in their creative abilities.”

Ebert said the program was not only beneficial for students, but also had a positive impact on the surrounding community. “Students were able to publicly showcase their work at the end of the semester. Through a partnership with the local comic store, Thunderfury Comics, they hosted an event in honor of Free Comic Book Day, which drew a large crowd and generated a great deal of positive feedback. This not only provided students with valuable exposure, but also helped to promote the arts in the community.”

“We are excited about the success of this program and grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Ohio Arts Council through the Teach Arts Ohio grant,” said Dr. Charles Speelman, superintendent of Tri-Rivers Career Center. “The impact of this program has been far-reaching, not only for our students but also for the community as a whole. We look forward to continuing to provide our students with unique and valuable educational experiences like this in the future.”

The Teach Arts Ohio grant is part of the Ohio Arts Council’s mission to foster and encourage the development of the arts and cultural opportunities in the state, said Davidson. “Tri-Rivers Career Center is proud to have been selected for this grant and looks forward to future collaborations with the Ohio Arts Council.”

For more information on Tri-Rivers Career Center or the Teach Arts Ohio program, please contact Ebert or Davidson at 740-389-4681 or visit Tri-Rivers’ website at