What ranks as one of the region's most treasured institutions will celebrate a milestone this coming weekend with its historic 50th graduating class. Manatee Technical Institute is a workforce and career training ground essential to the economic vitality of the county.
MTI's virtues have been long celebrated in this community since growing from five programs at first to 55 today and then earning a string of national honors. For 10 consecutive years, MTI's accomplished students have won the national SkillsUSA Championships -- winning more medals than any other vocational school.
MTI hopes to continue that unprecedented streak this week as the 2014 competition unfolds in Kansas City.
The Manatee County school district has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing technical skills for students of all ages and backgrounds to build rewarding personal and professional lives.
The industry-driven curriculum and academic development contribute mightily to the workforce, in short courses and one- and two-year programs and apprenticeships that are fully accredited and provide technical certificates.
Health care, culinary arts, automotive services, public safety and a much boarder array of career and technical educational services can be found at MTI.
We've boasted about MTI's respected standing in this community for years, and this new benchmark merits another. A half century of providing residents with the talents to improve their lives -- and their families -- should be celebrated.
MTI holds great promise for the future, too, only a little more than a year into a $44 million, 210,000-square-foot state-of-the-art main campus by Braden River High School in East Manatee.
The institute also operates a 50,000-square-foot medical and dental building, which opened in 2001; a fire science training center and burn tower, added in 2007; and a law enforcement academy, which debuted in 2008. MTI also has a small campus in Palmetto.
One of the best testimonials about the school comes from none other than a student from the 1980s and a current instructor, as quoted in Herald writer Richard Dymond's article about Sunday pending graduation ceremony.
Said Padraic "Paddy" McCarthy, who teaches major appliance technology, about the school's teachers enjoying their students' success:
"MTI is all about, 'Get in there, learn something and get yourself to work.' So many are lost when they come into that school that it's so rewarding to see them take over themselves and change their lives."
Those life-altering experiences build a better community, too.
Our congratulations to the MTI family and students, especially the 1,400 about to graduate Sunday -- well above the 78 from the 1964 class. And cheers to a half century of community building.