WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — It all started in the basement of the John Handley High School: a vision that turned into a reality five years later. A new vocational school was built on the campus to give students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a field they may turn into a career.

Former Senator Russ Potts is the executive director of the school.

“What we are going to do is provide vocational opportunities and employment opportunities for young people,” Potts said.

Many people came out to the event to celebrate the opening of the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center. To kick off the grand opening, a parade was held that featured the marching band, cheerleaders and even Virginia Governor Ralph Northam himself.

“We want to make sure that everybody in the commonwealth Virginia lives their dreams,” Northam said.

A few students at the high said they are excited to be a part of this program because it gives them a feel of what the workforce will be like. Ryan Stickley is a senior at the high school and is currently taking English two and carpentry.

He said he is really interested in pursuing a career in carpentry but is still not sure if he wants to attend college. However, he believes this program will give him the opportunity to jump-start his career.

“Working on the tools for like three hours at a time is like great practice, and I really enjoy it,” Stickley said.

The programs at the center will give students a variety of different options to choose from.

If you are interested in any of the programs, you can contact your school counselor.