Brecksville -- Hundreds turned out Oct. 1 for the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center's 45th anniversary open house, in which the career center staff, families and friends of students who attend any of the dozens of programs for people of all ages had a chance to tour the facility and see what the vocational school has to offer.

"It's a great establishment; a great opportunity for kids today," said Tammy Bruce, of Macedonia. "They need the hands-on expertise, and there's nowhere else to get it."

Her son, 19-year-old John Bruce, brought his 1969 Camaro Z-28 to the car show at the open house. He enrolled in a power equipment technology course while attending Nordonia High School, and is back this year for courses in machine technology.

"This is a great place to learn a career path," he said, noting the additional coursework helps diversify his skills.

Dannette Coddington, of Independence, said her 16-year-old son, Max Troibner, is studying medical arts, which will lead to a skill as a phlebotomist.

"We've been really happy," she said. "They can earn college credits and come out with a trade."

The CVCC was established in 1972 and serves eight area school districts including Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Garfield Heights, Independence, Nordonia Hills, North Royalton, Revere and Twinsburg. It is located at 8001 Brecksville Road, about two miles north of Route 82 in Brecksville

In addition to offering vocational education to high school students, the center offers programs for adults, continuing education programs for those who are already working, as well as career introduction training for kindergarten through eighth-grade students and community services.

Dave Mangas, executive director of the career center, said the faculty of around 90 instructors serves nearly 900 high school students, as well as around 5,000 adults through continuing education programs taught by dozens of part-time instructors.

He said the open house is a "great way to show the community what we do here."

Jeremy McCleary, president of Local 597 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, said the career center is a great place to work, noting that with 10 years on the job, he has the lowest seniority of the 31-member union.

"It's more than just co-workers -- it's family," he said. "Once people come here, they tend to stay."

Cory McConville, of Sagamore Hills, in his second year of the culinary arts program, just took over as front assistant manager at the Valley Inn restaurant, the career center's food-service venue.

"I just love our program," he said, adding he plans to go into restaurant management when he graduates.

Transition coordinator Penny Haser said McConville's sentiment is shared by the majority of students and staff, and noted the next anniversary to be celebrated with an open house -- the career center's 50th -- will be in five years.

"The next one's the big one," she said.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433