Starting next year, students at Western Area Career & Technology Center will never have to cancel a field trip because of bus-related complications.
Halliburton, one of the largest product and service providers in the oil and gas industry, donated a lightly used bus to WACTC during a ceremony Wednesday at the school in Chartiers Township, which serves nine participating area school districts, offering customized industry and business training.
State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, who informed Halliburton of WACTC’s need for a bus last winter, jumped in the driver’s seat during the ceremony, and Dr. Dennis J. McCarthy, WACTC director, accepted the keys with appreciation.
“We actually had to rent the buses from other companies and depend upon the bus availability,” McCarthy said. “If we were unable to secure a bus, then we had to cancel the field trip.”
Michael Segura, Halliburton’s Northeast Area operations manager, said the company knew Solobay was involved with the school and that the bus would be beneficial to the students.
“So we had this bus as part of our business … and it turns out we didn’t have the utilization for it that we had intended originally,” Segura said. “We started looking at the ability to donate it.”
McCarthy said the bus will provide students access to a variety of out-of-the-classroom opportunities that they might not been able to pursue before Halliburton’s donation.
Field trips are specific to students’ technical concentrations. For instance, protective service students visit a fire academy to witness searches and rescues, while auto mechanics and collision-repair students attend an annual auto show.
“So [the bus] gives us the opportunity to get the kids out,” McCarthy said. “And now, we’ll be able to do a lot with the other technologies.”
The bus also will assist nursing students who need to document 50 hours at a clinical site in order to complete the Certified Nursing Program. The school is currently transporting students by van, and the bus will help accommodate the growing number of students choosing the nursing program.
McCarthy hopes to finalize the new vehicle’s registration and title in time for the students’ final school days in June.
“Come fall, we’ll start our field trips earlier,” McCarthy said. “We’ll be able to get the kids out in September or October … and take field trips to the different companies around us.”