Too many teens come out of high school and go to college reluctantly, only to find themselves stuck in an academic rut. One alternative is technical school for specialized certification, and that’s what Spencer and Max Gazda are on track for. They

joined their parents, Derek and Tina Gazda, on a sailing excursion near Williamsburg.

“My father was a mechanic,” Derek recounted, “and he taught me to appreciate that life.” Derek is now an IT specialist with a company in Connecticut, where they live.

Spencer just finished a technical high school. “I earned 1,500 hours toward my certification in manufacturing, which is 8,000 hours.” He’ll go on to more tech work in machinery, manufacturing, blueprints, mechanical and so on. He’ll also get into a work/study program with a participating company that nurtures technical expertise.

“The governor just put more money into his school to make it state-of-the-art,” Tina said. “My brother went to technical school back when it was a relatively new idea. Today he has two careers, one as an electrician and one as a businessman.”

We sailed past a waterman, struggling in his deadrise boat to dredge for oysters and clams. They’re out there every day of the year, even in winter storms. I turned to the boys and said, “Stay in school.” Their mom concurred.

Mechanical work builds self-confidence. We talked for a while about diesel engines and how simple they are compared to gasoline engines. The boys were fluent in the mechanics of engines, and they both sailed the boat as if they’d done it all their lives. It was their first time.

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