Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Weeki Wachee High to amp up training with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative equipment

WEEKI WACHEE — Hands-on experience is already a fundamental part of Weeki Wachee High School's sequence of courses on power and energy technology.

In Steve Stora's second-floor classroom, students learn about electricity, pneumatics and hydraulics by building projects like steam-powered catapults and magnetic levitation model trains.

Next fall, the learning lab will extend to the school's back yard when the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative sets up power poles, wires, transformers and other equipment their linemen work with every day.

The school district is embarking on a partnership with the power cooperative to give students a firsthand look at the electric power industry. The power company has offered to build a training yard similar to the one behind its office on State Road 50, near Weeki Wachee.

Employees would visit the high school campus to lead some courses on the equipment, which would not be energized.

The brainchild of recently retired principal Dennis McGeehan, the partnership with WREC dovetails perfectly with the curriculum of the three-course power and energy elective program, Stora told the School Board during a workshop Tuesday.

The program started this year and is funded through a federal Race to the Top grant. The school has applied for academy status for the sequence so students who complete all three courses and pass an exam would earn a national industry certification in 3-D design software called SolidWorks.

When the course gets to the section on electrical transmission, learning from the experts on real equipment would benefit a range of students, from the college-bound to those who might want to pursue a career as a lineman with WREC or another power company, Stora said.

"Rather than them reading from a book, they can go out there and actually see it," he said.

Creating a pipeline of potential quality applicants is the incentive for the cooperative to lend its equipment and employees at no cost to the district, WREC district manager David Gonzalez told the board.

During a recent round of interviews for apprentice lineman positions, few if any applicants had a firm grasp of what the job entails, Gonzalez said. Weeki Wachee graduates with the power and energy certification would still need to complete WREC's training program.

"To come in and have some hands-on experience and know that's the field you want to go into, you're going to have a leg up," Gonzalez said. "Just like everybody else, we want valuable employees."

A WREC spokesman declined to say what the company pays its employees. Generally, though, salaries for apprentice linemen start at about $30,000. Journeymen who complete five years of training to work independently on high-voltage lines can earn more than twice that.

Superintendent of schools Bryan Blavatt noted the partnership also could be an asset to the district's adult education program.

"I'm very happy to see this coming to fruition," board member Dianne Bonfield said. "I think we had always hoped that Nature Coast Technical High School would be more technical than it ever turned out to be, so I'm glad to see the expansion of the technical arts is going into more than just one school."

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Weeki Wachee High to amp up training with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative equipment 05/16/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 6:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. A total of 367 men and women reside on death row at Florida State Prison and Union Correctional Institution, down from 383 at the start of this year. [AP photo (1989)]
  2. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, right, host MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at NBC Studios in New York on April 14, 2010. President Donald Trump on Thursday assailed Brzezinski in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media.
  3. Goliath grouper are anything but gentle giants for Florida fishermen


    Goliath, the biblical giant, wasn't known for bothering fishermen. But the gigantic fish named after him — they can weigh up to 800-pounds — is notorious for exactly that.

    Biologists take samples from a goliath grouper that was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The fish was released back into the gulf. Florida fishermen have petitioned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow them to catch the up to 800-pound fish for a limited time. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  4. Volkov hopes to prove his surprise selection right


    RW Alexander Volkov was not a particularly talked-about player in the lead up to the NHL entry draft.

  5. A stunt turns deadly for a couple seeking YouTube fame (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks: Ruiz climbing onto a tenuous tree branch and falling a short distance, or Perez feeding him a doughnut covered in baby powder …

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks. On June 26, 2017, authorities say, Perez, 19, shot at a thick book that Ruiz, 22, was holding, apparently believing that the bullet would not make it through the volume. The bullet entered Ruiz's chest and he died at the scene. [Photo from video]