At the recently rebuilt Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring, students are learning the latest skills in carpentry, law enforcement and more
Architecture students listen to teacher Feyishara Adelekan explain how the wall of a residential home is like a sandwich—with two sides and drywall, and filled with different types of insulation, wiring and plumbing. “It gives students a real understanding of what they are drawing. It’s more than a line. It’s a frame and an exterior and an interior wall,” says Adelekan, who worked as an architect for 10 years before coming to Edison to teach principles of architecture and CAD (computer-aided design) technology within the construction cluster. At the end of their first year, Edison students can earn Autodesk AutoCAD certification. After year two, they can become certified in Revit, a building information modeling technology. Most graduates of the program go on to study architecture, interior design or civil engineering, according to Adelekan.
Chef Sean Kerchner shows restaurant management/culinary arts students (left to right) Paola Perez, 17, Magda Mendez, 18, Laura Lida, 18, and Cindy Dominguez, 17, how to prepare raw turkey for stock. The students make food that’s served in the student-run restaurant, Café Edison. The school aims to operate as a zero-waste facility, using scraps of vegetables for stock and turning that stock into sauce. Kerchner, who manages a Panera Bread in the summer and has worked as a sous chef at McCormick & Schmick’s in D.C. and as a chef at Dominic’s Italian Grille in Silver Spring, says he finds that people are often drawn to the profession because they’re creative, want to progress in something that’s theirs, and feel a sense of belonging. “We are hungry to make people happy—without being in the spotlight. I like to be behind the scenes,” says Kerchner, who plays rock and blues music on vinyl in the school kitchen during class. Lida, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, wears a black coat because she’s a sous chef in her second year of the program. “I get to serve people, which is important. You learn life skills,” she says of training to be a chef, a career she is considering, although she’s leaning toward joining the military.
Claudia Akhi-Gbade, a sophomore at Silver Spring’s James Hubert Blake High School, perfects her braiding technique during cosmetology class. “I really like nails, hair and makeup,” says Akhi-Gbade, who would like to own a nail salon. “I like having my [academic] classes in the morning. I feel like I can focus more. Then, in the afternoon, this is more of a chill, relaxed class. You can work at your own pace.”
As part of his training in the auto body repair technology program, Springbrook High School senior Jeffrey Hernandez grinds the paint off a car to fix a dent. The new facility has state-of-the-art equipment, and more room and better lighting than the previous building, says John Petro, an instructor at Edison for 20 years. “Our old shop was so dark and dingy,” he says. “It’s a brighter atmosphere. It’s so much easier to see your work.” Edison accepts donations of used cars from the public. After being repaired, some of the vehicles are sold at an annual event run by students in the automotive technology and dealership training program, and the proceeds are funneled back into the school.