Attention Parents & Students: Don’t Overlook Eastland-Fairfield’s Innovative Career Programs

Classes offered at the Eastland-Fairfield Career Center aren’t those from when today’s moms and dads were in high school. What the Career Center offers high-schoolers now puts many students on a path to successful college or work careers.


Like many Franklin County school districts, Bexley is affiliated with Eastland-Fairfield Career Center and all of its satellite locations, sending some of its juniors and seniors to state-of-the-art programs to learn real-world skills.


The application period is open now for Bexley sophomores to apply for the career-experience programs. All Bexley sophomores and their parents/guardians are encouraged to consider what Eastland-Fairfield Career Center offers among its 35 programs, which include aviation, pharmacy, programming and software development, interactive media, firefighting, HVAC, construction, criminal justice, and architecture. That’s just a small list of the many offered.


New programs in robotics and automation and teaching professions begin next school year.

We know that many Bexley students already plan to attend a traditional two-year or four-year college after high school. That includes some of Bexley’s two dozen juniors and seniors who currently attend the Career Center.

Click on the Image Above to Go to the 2023-2024 Program Catalog


According to Ryan Gasser, Eastland-Fairfield’s communications coordinator, well over 50% of their 1,600 students intend to continue their education after high school, whether to a two-year or four-year college or to a specialized certification program in their chosen field.


Serving 16 Central Ohio school districts, the Career Center has two main campuses, Eastland Career Center in Groveport and Fairfield Career Center further south off of Route 33 in Carroll, Oh. There also are satellite locations at some local high schools. 

Aaron Ligator

Bexley High School Senior

Eastland Program: Welding


Senior Aaron Ligator’s possible path in life was borne at an early age. He said he wants to be an engineer and he’s had his heart set on that since elementary school.

“I had great teachers, like Mr. (Michael) Vincent, who helped to spark my interest, but I always enjoyed working with my hands and solving problems and that drew me into engineering,” Aaron said. “In his science class it was all about exploring the world around us and solving problems. Like making the fastest car out of a bottle, or having us compete in an egg-drop competition. Mr. Vincent had us doing all sorts of STEM-related activities.”


Taking college-prep courses is one way Aaron is working to achieve his dream. Another, calculated, but perhaps less-traveled opportunity is attending Eastland Career Center during his junior and senior years, where he participates in the welding program.


Aaron said he first learned about the career center programs in middle school and knew right away that he wanted to go there.


He explained, “I knew that going to the school would help me to get a feel of what it's like to be in the STEM field, but also to help put me ahead of other students. Going to a school to specialize in a STEM field would be better than to take other normal classes.”


Pointing out that welding is expensive to learn in a paid-class setting, he said, “What drew me to welding was all the applications it has at home or around you. While it might have been the better choice to take a machining class, the skills for machining are learned in college and most people don't own their own milling machine. But many people own their own welders and do their own projects.”


Aaron still is actively involved in Bexley High School activities. He’s a member of the select Vocal Ensemble and plans to travel with the group to Canada for performances after graduation. He also is a tutor in the Math Resource Center.


He took his core courses at the high school during his junior year, including Honors Pre-Calculus, AP government, and English 11. Last semester he took core courses at Columbus State Community College.

Aaron explained that Eastland Career Center’s welding program is hands-on and the instructor encourages students to make mistakes.


“You get to experiment and see what works and what doesn't. It's so important to actually weld and get a feel for it since you learn how certain welding techniques react in situations or positions and also being familiar with tools used in the field.”


He went on, “The lab at Eastland is top notch. The class also teaches you how to read blueprints and work with others in a setting where you need to complete projects by a deadline.”


Aaron also takes advantage of the option to work during his senior year, rather than attending welding class. He works at Manifold & Phalen, a welding and machining company in Canal Winchester, where he intends to continue work next summer after high school graduation.


“Work-based learning looks good on college applications,” Aaron said. “If you get a job in the field you're specializing in, it also allows students to further familiarize themselves with the work and see if it’s the right fit for them.”


Come late next summer, Aaron will attend The Ohio State University, majoring in mechanical engineering. “I hope I can get a job In the STEM field that will have me working with my hands and keep me busy,” he said. 

Mack Morrow

Bexley High School Junior

Eastland Program: Graphic Design

Current Bexley junior Mack Morrow said attending Eastland’s graphic-design program is the best decision she’s made in her young life. 

Like most of the Career Center’s programs, graphic design is a two-year program where students learn the intricacies of powerful Adobe software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, with an opportunity to earn their certification in each software.


While much of the junior year is spent learning the software, students also learn about production methods and preparing designs to be used across many mediums. Students’ senior years are spent developing a portfolio for post-high school needs and connecting with possible employers.


Mack, who is the vice president of the Career Center’s graphic-design program, is planning a career in marketing and social media and she’s confident about her abilities. “I know what I’m doing,” she said.

“Graphic design is everywhere and it’s versatile,” she said. “I love it!”


Calling her design classmates and teachers her second family, Mack explained that she’s also fully immersed in life at Bexley High School. Yes, all Career Center students remain students of their home school districts and graduate with their high school class.


Mack’s parents are longtime Bexley residents and Bexley graduates themselves. They wanted her to maintain Bexley ties, which she has done. She is a discus and shot-put thrower for the high school track-and-field team. She still takes all of her core classes at BHS, spending the afternoons at the high school after spending each morning at Eastland Career Center doing her graphic-design labs. Her high-school classes include algebra II, AP studio art, English, and honors chemistry.


The junior said she’s grateful that Bexley offers busing to the Career Center because she doesn’t have her driver’s license. She gets on the bus at BHS at about 7:25 a.m. and is back at the high school around 11:45 a.m. “It’s a long day,” she said, “but I appreciate it. You have to be motivated and want this. I’m passionate about it.”

Payton Niswander

Bexley High School Senior

Eastland Program: Auto Body & Paint

Payton Niswander’s dream is to work with custom cars one day.


A child who loved building things, especially model cars, when he was younger, Payton explained that customizing a car with an engine or body upgrade or custom paint job is just one professional goal he seeks.

A high-school senior now, Payton attends Eastland Career Center’s auto body and paint program, a program he started his junior year.


“I always wanted to come here,” Payton said. “I came here in 8th grade for a tour and also attended a summer program here.” Those opportunities sealed his intent to apply to the program.

In addition to his work in the auto-body program, Payton also takes his high school courses at Eastland.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I enjoy painting and you can make a decent amount of money doing it. Not a lot of people are trained in the work.”


Instructors in the auto body and paint program teach students about collision repair, including structural material and advances in automotive technology. Students also learn about auto body construction, surface prep and dent repair, as well as welding and cutting.


Another part of the program teaches students to restore vehicles, including learning custom painting and air brushing.


Graduates of the program should be prepared for jobs including damage estimating, auto body frame repair, sheet metal straightening or replacement, and painting and detailing.


Payton takes advantage of the option to work during his senior year and currently is employed at McCombe Body Shop on East Main Street, where he works part-time during the school year. He worked full time during the summer at the same business, primarily tearing down wrecked vehicles and assessing whether there’s additional unseen damage. He also does some body work.


What’s in the future after high school graduation? Payton said he’d love to live in an area of the country with a strong “car culture” – somewhere where people take advantage of how cars can be customized. He also wants to upgrade his professional position so he can apply all he’s learned in the auto body and paint program.

Valeria Navanjo

Bexley High School Junior

Eastland Program: Culinary Arts

Another Bexley junior, Valeria Navanjo, also is passionate about her studies. While remaining a Bexley high school student, Valeria chooses to take her core classes at Eastland Career Center and also studies culinary services.

“I always liked to cook,” Valeria said, “and I have a vision for my future that includes it.” Eastland’s culinary program features instruction by chef Drew Borenstein, an award-winning instructor and former sous chef in several Cameron Mitchell restaurants.  Not only are students taught to cook properly, but they also learn restaurant management, including sanitization and safety, as well as fine-tuning their culinary skills in international cuisine and pastries.


During her senior year, Valeria said she hopes to do a work-study program, where she can work in a kitchen. “I want to go to culinary school after high school,” she said. “I want to expand my knowledge in the culinary field.”


Eastland’s culinary arts program is one of only five in Ohio that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation and it’s ranked in the top 50 of the National Center for Hospitality Studies.


Eastland-Fairfield to Offer Student Visits & Family Tours Beginning in January

Beginning in January, Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools will host three Career Tech Thursday visits for students and six separate Family Tour dates. Registration is needed for each event.


Career Tech Thursdays for Students:

  • Feb. 16, 2023
  • March 2, 2023

Students who visit programs at either Eastland Career Center or Fairfield Career Center will spend their day at that location, including lunch. They should choose two programs to visit. On the selected day, students will ride the bus with current ECC and FCC  students. Busing information will be provided to students who register. 


Each student must turn in a permission slip to high school counselors one week in advance of the visit.

Students who sign up to visit a satellite program need to provide transportation to the location. They will not spend an entire day at the satellite program location, but will attend the lab portion only. The Career Services team will coordinate details with each student and parent/guardian. 


Family Tours

Students and their families also can tour Eastland-Fairfield facilities

Students and parents/guardians who want to tour two programs per visit during 11 times between mid-January and late April. They may tour either Fairfield Career Center or Eastland Career Center.


Students and families who want to visit a satellite program should email Holly Rider at Eastland-Fairfield to make arrangements for the tour.


The tour dates and times are:

  • January 26, 9:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
  • February 9, 12:30 p.m.
  • March 9, 9:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
  • April 13, 9:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
  • April 27, 9:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.

Students and families who want to visit a satellite program should email Holly Rider 
at Eastland-Fairfield to make arrangements for the tour.


Registration is needed for the tours. After clicking on the registration link, click again on the preferred date to access the form.