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story.lead_photo.caption Josh Burnham, left, watches his brother, Jack Burnham, sand a piece of plastic pipe for a T-shirt cannon they are making in a pre-engineering class at Arkadelphia High School. A two-day industry fair highlighting jobs in the pre-engineering and manufacturing fields, as well as other skilled professional careers is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at Arkadelphia High School. - Photo by William Harvey

— Arkadelphia High School Principal David Maxwell believes Clark County offers a bright future for young people.

“There are going to be a lot of jobs available in our county … jobs that we may not even know about yet,” he said. “We need to be sure we create an educated and qualified workforce in Clark County.”

In order to introduce students to a sampling of these career opportunities, Maxwell will host a two-day industry fair for Arkadelphia High School students, as well as other students from the area. The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28 in the Arkadelphia High School parking lot.

Maxwell said the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has launched a statewide workforce initiative aimed at educating and inspiring more Arkansans to consider professional skilled careers. ASCC/AIA promotes this effort with a Be Pro Be Proud mobile workshop, which will be on display at the Arkadelphia High School industry fair.

Maxwell said the mobile workshop encourages student participation in construction, trucking, manufacturing and other specific career opportunities.

“In addition to the Arkansas State Chamber, we already have representatives from several area industries and universities coming,” he said. “I have invited several schools, and many have already let me know they will be here.”

Among the other scheduled participants will be the following:

• Stribling Equipment of Arkadelphia will provide a John Deere log skidder/excavator simulator.

• Midsouth Forestry Equipment in Caddo Valley will provide a Tigercat feller buncher and a Tigercat manufacturing video.

• The University of Arkansas at Monticello will provide a road-grader simulator and a representative from the school’s admissions department.

• Henderson State University will provide an aviation simulator, a representative from Henderson’s admissions department and a representative from the Small Business Technology Development Center.

• The Arkansas Truckers Association will provide a Share the Road presentation and a truck-driving simulator.

• College of the Ouachitas in Malvern will provide a truck-driving simulator and a representative from the school’s admissions department.

• South Central Electric Utilities of Arkadelphia will provide a high-voltage simulator and someone who can talk about job prospects in the industry.

• Baptist Medical Center will provide a medical-flight, rotary-wing helicopter.

In addition to Arkadelphia High School, schools that have indicated they will attend the industry fair include Centerpoint High School, Gurdon High School, Bismarck High School, Prescott High School, Ouachita High School, Kirby

High School, the Mineral Springs School District, South Pike County/Murfreesboro High School, Sparkman High School, Blevins High School and Goza Middle School of Arkadelphia.

“Our goal is for the kids to be able to see the technology they study applied to industry,” Maxwell said. “We are a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) emphasis school here at Arkadelphia High and offer various courses in these high-tech fields, but the kids have no experience with the real-world applications of this technology.”

Maxwell said Arkadelphia High School supports multiple career-education courses, including manufacturing, medical professions, transportation, pre-engineering, information technology and aviation-pilot training. Maxwell said Arkadelphia High School was the first high school in the state to offer aviation-pilot training in partnership with Henderson State University and the Dawson Educational Cooperative.

“Just this year, we have added a program on the use of robotic arms,” he said. “There are 20-plus industries in the area that already use these robotic arms.”

Maxwell said Gurdon High School recently purchased three logging simulators, which will be used to train students for work in the logging industry.

“The potential for growth here is great,” he said. “[Clark County and Arkadelphia] are building a new paper mill — Sun Paper Products. That will offer so many manufacturing jobs. It is estimated that at least 1,000 jobs will be created just to build the mill, … then several hundred more jobs to operate it.

“We are building two new schools — a middle school and an elementary school. And we are building a new bank. This is what we know about now. We have got to train a workforce — our students — to support all this.”

Maxwell said he hopes to make the industry fair an annual event.

For more information, contact Maxwell at

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