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Career Center Big Part of Home
January 7, 2009 - With the announcement that the state will soon be closing the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home (ISSCH), questions abound as to what will happen to the various programs that have existed at the facility for decades.
There is much more to the facility than Morton Memorial High School.
Enrollment at the ISSCH has risen and fallen over the years due to periods of war and peace and of economic prosperity and hard times. The largest enrollment the Home ever had was in 1935, during the height of the Great Depression, when 1,010 children were living there.
Today, there are roughly 115 students who live at the facility and attend Morton Memorial Schools.
ISSCH is well known for its vocational programs, which conduct operations from the Ralph E. Eder Career Center. The vocational programs are used by most of the Henry County school corporations and the facilities have kept up with new technologies.
Home students, as well as students from Knightstown, Eastern Hancock, Tri High, Shenandoah, New Castle, Hagerstown and Union School Corporation (Modoc), take courses at the vocational center. This school year, the facility hosts about 100 students each day from schools outside the home. The department was named in honor of the late Ralph Eder, who was a long-time coach and athletic director at the home.
The vocational department is a part of the home, but it also works in partnership with New Castle Area Career Programs (NCACP). The department currently offers programs in broadcasting (radio), cosmetology, natural resources management, veterinary sciences, graphic communications, building trades, culinary arts and dental assisting.
Vocational programs are designed to prepare students with entry-level skills for the job market. Programs are particularly aimed at students who don't desire a four-year college education.
The main vocational building at the home was built in 1975 and has been serving students since that time. There are currently 10 full-time employees at the career center.
The radio station, WKPW, signed on in 1993, and was launched by Mike York. Located at 90.7 FM, the station is part of the vocational education program. Over the years, the station has received many awards, and quite a few of York's students have gone on to work in radio, either as on-air talent or in management.
Like most of the other classes in the vocational department, telecommunications is a two-year program, comprised of juniors and seniors. There is an average of 10 to 12 students in the class at any one time, with half on the air and half in training. It is considered one of the best student-run radio stations in the state with an estimated 40,000 listeners.
Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps (JROTC), which provides military training to home students, has existed at the school since 1981, but the program was conceived in 1916. It sprang from the National Defense Act that was passed that year. Its purpose: to instill in citizens a greater awareness of the military and its importance to the well-being of the country. Every branch of the military has a JROTC program, and the United States Army runs the one at the Home.
The program currently has a good number of students enrolled, and most live at the Home. The JROTC drill team can be seen every year on Legion Day, when the Home honors the American Legion for its many generous contributions.
Since 2001, the JROTC has also held a memorial service for the victims of 9/11 and has participated in Veteran's Day and Memorial Day programs, as well as other events in Knightstown.
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