Every year Virginia’s elite high school athletes celebrate promising careers in college sport with “Signing Day” ceremonies. Before peers and parents, young men and women sign letters of intent amid rounds of applause then don the hat of their chosen team for pictures and interviews. It’s a sparkly introduction to the world of adults, under television lights and the flashes of cell phone cameras.  

This year, Henrico County Schools are celebrating top students in their Career and Technical Training Program with a “Signing Day” ceremony. Junior Achievement helped organize there event at the Libbie Mill Library. 

Sovan Brooks is among 20 students being recognized. Sovan’s turning a high school internship with Crosspointe Rolls-Royce into a paid apprenticeship with the company. His mother Ravy is misty eyed. “I’m happy. I’m proud. Very proud of my young man”, she says.

Crosspointe Rolls-Royce manufactures precision components for aerospace industries. Other local firms such as RJ Tilley, Howell’s and Progresive Enigineering are also signing Henrico seniors to apprenticeships and paid work.

Unlike the athletes, who hope for big checks after going pro, Henrico’s Career and Technical Program grads will be making money soon. And benefits. Crosspointe Rolls-Royce Operations Manager Bill Carson rattles them off, “Paid vacation, paid health insurance and if they choose to go into a different field down the road, they’ll also have tuition reimbursement.” 

What inspires employers to offer big packages to their youngest prospects? “We really do struggle finding people to fill the vacancies.” Carson says, “So partnering up with school systems has been very beneficial for us.”  

It helps that Henrico’s Career and Technical Program is respected across a variety of industries for preparing students to meet the engineering challenges of the future.  

Today, the youngsters are preparing for the bright lights of success. 

Dylan Milam is wearing a Rolls-Royce hat like Sovan’s. “It definitely made me feel a little special. I mean I have a lot of friends who sign with football and stuff. So getting my own signing day is nice.” 

Brooks shakes his head and smiles. “It’s different. I’m a real shy guy so I never thought I’d be here.”

His mother Ravy couldn’t be more pleased. “I’m so happy for him. I’m proud. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s exciting!” 

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