“It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity:” Eastern Carolina students accepted to prestigious Virginia program

Dixon High School
Dixon High School
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Onslow County students were celebrated on Friday for their accomplishments.

Dixon High School has five students who have been accepted into the prestigious Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia.

“I stepped out of work because I recognized the phone number, and I got the call,” Vinnie Disbennett said after he heard he was accepted into the program. “I was very excited. I went [back to work] and told my co-workers then called my mom and dad that I got in.”

Hunter Tobin shared the news with his family after he received the same exact call.

“She screamed,” said Tobin after telling his mom the news. “She was very excited for me. There isn’t really anything else like this out there, so it’s kind of a one-of-a-kind opportunity.”

WITN is told the program has an acceptance rate of around 6% and being accepted is a huge accomplishment for the students.

The school provides the opportunity to work as an apprentice within the shipbuilding area of Newport News and earn an associate’s degree simultaneously. The students had to do all the right things during their high school years.

The family members were not the only ones cheering for the students. A teacher at Dixon High School, Ray Swaney, told WITN, “Everybody in this school was excited. We would hear one [student got accepted] and we are texting each other and sending emails.”

Tobin shared that he would not be where he is today without the curriculum and lessons his teachers taught him.

“Every day welding in the shop and going to the skills center helped me a lot,” said Tobin. “They were the ones who helped me the in preparing for everything.”

An accomplishment for students who got accepted into the program at the Apprentice School in Virginia gives new fuel to teachers to continue their hard work.

“Public education isn’t completely broken,” Swaney shared with WITN. “We have some teachers that do care and go the extra mile. We have a lot of teachers at this school who really do want to help the kids.”

The program lasts between three and four years and after completing it, students will be fully vested employees or on a fast track to a super-advisor position.