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Each year hundreds of students take advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school by enrolling in the WATC program. However, three students went the extra mile and completed the requirements to earn an associate degree during their time in WATC – and it was all free! Dakston Drennan of Greenwood (Greenwood High School), Hunter Comer of Alma (Mountainburg High School) and Zane Harrison of Van Buren (Van Buren High School) walked across the stage in the May 14 commencement ceremony at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith as candidates for an Associate of Applied Science a week before earning their high school diplomas. Their journey began at WATC while they were juniors in high school. Comer and Drennan enrolled in WATC’s automotive technology program and Harrison enrolled in computer graphic technology. All three students quickly expressed their desire to do more while displaying a strong work ethic and devotion to education. Comer and Drennan each received a scholarship to take courses during the summer semesters between their junior and senior year. During their senior year, Comer, Drennan and Harrison each took extra courses at night during the fall and spring semesters to achieve their goal of earning an associate degree.

Comer and Drennan both earned their associate degrees in automotive technology. They also earned a technical certificate in automotive technology and certificates of proficiency in three areas: automotive drivetrain specialist, automotive undercar specialist and automotive drivability specialist. Harrison also received a certificate of proficiency in computer graphic technology – mechanical and CGT entry level. Dr. D. Chris Rink, WATC director, was enthusiastic about what the students have accomplished. “Each student in WATC is taking advantage of an outstanding opportunity to get a jumpstart on their education. These three students have taken the initiative and put in the extra work to earn an associate degree in high school. They each have extraordinary potential and we are eager to see what they continue to accomplish in the future.”


It is hard to believe that another year is in the books! As I reflect on my sixth year as the director of WATC, several things help me see how great our faculty, staff and students are in the WATC program! First and foremost, I am very proud of our WATC students. Our students are what make WATC great! I was blown away with the number of Director’s Honor Roll recipients we had this year. One hundred eighteen students had a 3.75 or higher GPA, and over 100 of them where at 4.0. That shows how focused our students are and their passion for learning. I am also proud of the other students who received awards at the WATC Awards Ceremony. A great number of students received awards and scholarships to continue their education right here at UAFS. I am proud of each student who was nominated by their instructors for these awards; including the students from our satellite campus at Waldron High School. Waldron plays an important part in our mission to provide the best concurrent credit classes available to our students. The Health Sciences program of study at the Waldron campus assists us in doing just that. I must also thank the staff of the WATC office for the fantastic work they do behind the scenes. From our participation in Partners in Education with the Fort Smith junior high schools, integrated instruction, advising, Next Step visits, parent preview nights, high school visits and SkillsUSA, the WATC staff is the best! Each person who visited the office this year had the pleasure of interacting with Mrs. Donna Scott, our administrative specialist. Mrs. Scott came on board officially for the spring semester and has been a great help to all of us and to the students. When you call the office, she is always ready to help you and answer your questions. I attended the SkillsUSA competition in Hot Springs in April. We were so proud of the competitive spirit in each of our contest participants. Each of the students were nominated by a faculty member in their program area; I am proud of their work and the 14 medals we won while in Hot Springs. The Next Step visits were a great part of the spring semester as we brought 10th grade students from most all of the high schools WATC serves to the UAFS campus in order for them to see firsthand the WATC experience. We have received a great number of new applications for admission into WATC for 2016-17, and these visits surely helped generate interest in the program areawide. We are expecting another great fall semester.

As we look toward next year, I see a continued great future for WATC and the students who attend classes. What a wonderful opportunity the students have to receive college credit for work completed during their junior and senior year of high school. We welcomed several new faces to the WATC office this past year, and are proud to have each one here helping students. It is our hope that each student has an ample opportunity to follow their career objectives. We are hoping our area students remain interested in the WATC program for years to come. It is my sincere hope to be a part of that future for many years. See you in August! D. Chris Rink, Ed.D. Director

D. Chris Rink Director 788-7701

Savanna Knight Assistant Director 788-7713

Sarah Green Rebecca Cheek Janine Arbaugh Donna Scott Program Coordinator Academic Advisor Integrated Specialist Administrative Specialist II 788-7726 788-7122 788-7336 788-7700

Please contact our WATC staff with questions about the WATC program in general or for more information on a specific career training path.


For each WATC program, an outstanding student is recognized for demonstrating honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic above and beyond the instructor’s expectations. Outstanding WATC students receive a $500 scholarship to continue their education at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. To be nominated for the scholarship, a student must be a high school senior who has a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at UAFS, has completed one semester in the WATC program for which he or she is nominated, is enrolled in the program currently, and is in good standing with the program.

Jasmine Joseph Northside High School Advanced Health

Brady Wilkinson Greenwood High School Automotive Technology

Joseph Melton Lavaca High School Broadcast Journalism

Zane Harrison Van Buren High School Computer Graphic Technology

Jerrica Turner Northside High School Criminal Justice

Rachel Wagoner Mansfield High School Early Childhood Education

Christ Somphounout Northside High School Electronics Technology

Danielle Sewell Charleston High School General Health

Karolyn Manas Mansfield High School Graphic Design

Miguel Chavez Northside High School Information Technology

Daniel Clark Alma High School Pre-Engineering

Tanner Wilkins Alma High School Welding Technology


Students in the Western Arkansas Technical Center at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith won a total of 14 medals – seven of them gold medals – in the 2016 Arkansas SkillsUSA Championships. Awards were given in the secondary division and included gold, silver and bronze medals for first, second and third places. In addition to the medals, WATC gold medal winners receive a four-year $1,000 scholarship to attend UAFS.

Alma: Jacob Bolding, Alma High School, silver in Welding Fabrication (team of 3); Hunter McDermid, Alma High School, silver in Welding Fabrication (team of 3); Chase Pearson, Alma High School, silver in Welding Fabrication (team of 3). Booneville: Elizabeth Chrisman, Booneville High School, gold in Health Knowledge Bowl (team of 3); Debbie Robertson, Booneville High School, gold in Health Knowledge Bowl (team of 3). Fort Smith: Lauren Hoover, Southside High School, gold in Preschool Teaching Assistant; Rachael Keomany, Northside High School, gold in Nurse Assisting; James Sangster, Northside High School, gold in Technical Computer Applications; Kayla Tucker, Southside High School, bronze in Prepared Speech. Greenwood: Kristen Keene, Greenwood High School, silver in Preschool Teaching Assistant. Van Buren: Haley Rains, Van Buren High School, gold in Health Knowledge Bowl (team of 3). Waldron: Jeana Lovett, Waldron High School, gold in Basic Healthcare Skills; Nikkita Sandifer, Waldron High School, silver in Medical Math; Morgan Schafer, Waldron High School, silver in First Aid/CPR.


The mission of SkillsUSA is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. This year, six SkillsUSA members achieved Gold Star Member status. To become a SkillsUSA Gold Star Member, students must obtain a minimum of 25 points throughout the school year. Points can be earned by attending UAFS events, volunteering or participating in community service, competing at the state level, attending SkillsUSA meetings, or exhibiting leadership qualities.

The 2015-16 SkillsUSA Gold Star Members are: Madeline Burgin of Fort Smith (Southside High School) Joseph Hardwood of Van Buren (Van Buren High School) Debbie Robertson of Booneville (Booneville High School) Larry Saengchan of Fort Smith (Northside High School) Kayla Tucker of Fort Smith (Southside High School) Smart Vang of Paris (County Line High School)

The WATC Early Step Scholarship is awarded to selected WATC juniors with college-level ACT or Compass test scores in reading and writing and who have excelled in the following criteria: attendance, fall 2015 GPA, and spring 2016 mid-term GPA. The scholarship enables the juniors to take English Composition I (freshman English) during the 2016 Summer I term, and is valued at approximately $700. The following students were awarded the opportunity to participate in the scholarship program: Alma: Haley Gilstrap and Allison Rogers, both of Alma High School. Booneville: Erika Gray, Booneville High School. Cedarville: Bethany Bartlett, Cedarville High School. Charleston: Johnathon Singleton, Charleston High School. Fort Smith: Emily Johnston, Southside High School. Greenwood: Madison Franks, Greenwood High School. Hackett: Stacy Spalding, Hackett High School. Huntington: Eden Jones, Mansfield High School. Mansfield: Shariesa Feimster and July Parish, both of Mansfield High School. Van Buren: Norman Davis, Van Buren High School.


Students enrolled in the Pre-K Language and Literacy class hosted a Preschool Poetry CafĂŠ in April. Early childhood education instructor Krista Hinton asked her students to choose a poem from a list of authors who specialize in preschool poetry. Students then constructed a display that showcased the theme of their selected poem. They also created a lesson plan that contained activities and met benchmark standards for preschool language development. The projects were presented at the Poetry Cafe and were judged by a panel of teachers who specialize in preschool education. Dr. Chris Rink, WATC director, Dr. Glenda Ezell, School of Education executive director, Melony Francis, early childhood education instructor, and Savanna Knight, WATC assistant director, attended for the presentations as did adjunct faculty for early childhood education.


Sixteen WATC students have completed the requirements and now qualify for a technical certificate in Industrial Electronics & Electrical Maintenance, Automotive Technology, Computer Graphic Technology – Mechanical, or Welding Technology. This was the first year for WATC students to earn a technical certificate in Industrial Electronics & Electrical Maintenance, a new certificate available to students enrolled in the electronics technology program. The students qualifying for technical certificates are: Alma: Hunter Comer, Mountainburg High School; Christian Isom, Alma High School; Hunter McDermid, Alma High School; Chase Pearson, Alma High School; Alex Thompson, Alma High School. Cedarville: John Mills, Cedarville High School. Fort Smith: Daylen Czarnikow, Northside High School; Sean Ledoux-Hunt, Southside High School; Christ Somphounout, Northside High School; Braden Walker, Southside High School. Greenwood: Dakston Drennan, Greenwood High School; Brady Wilkinson, Greenwood High School; Ryan Willis, Greenwood High School. Mountainburg: Cole Cherry, Mountainburg High School; Clayton Rose, Alma High School. Mulberry: William Deputy, Alma High School.


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Aug 22 – First day of classes Sep 5 – Labor Day (no class) Oct 6 – Counselors and Principals meeting Oct 27 – Chad Cargill ACT Workshop Nov 23 – Fall Break Dec 6 – Last day of classes Dec 7 – Reading Day (no class) Dec 8 – WATC Preview Night

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2016 WATC newsletter