Graduation is just over a month away, but a few Crestview High School seniors signed off on their future early.

Fellow students and various family members gathered in the auditorium at the high school on Tuesday to watch as the soon-to-be high school graduates committed to their decision to further their education at Okaloosa Technical College in the fall.

“It’s an exciting day because we get to see the fruits of labor from the school district,” said OTC’s assistant director, Kelly Hayes. “We look for every way we can for students to further their education and find a job.”

“This is a special day for me to see these kids sign to their future,” added Carl Grimes, vocational and career adviser for OTC.

This is the first year that OTC has had a signing day.

“All the emphasis has been on universities and we want this to be on equal ground with what universities do for academics,” said Grimes. “We feel that this, if anything, might be more important because of the trade gap in our country.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of jobs that are going to be open in the next few years and nobody to fill them,” he added.

Grimes said he began recruiting a large number of students early in the school year, resulting in 10 new students from CHS. Nine of the students were present for the signing day.

“I told them, ‘Look, I’m going to recruit you just like an athlete. I want you to come to our school,’” said Grimes. "I got them information about their career fields, kind of zoned in on it and talked to them about it and saw if it’s the right thing for them.”

OTC, which is part of the Okaloosa County School District, offers 13 programs for students to choose from. Students can begin their education in these fields by taking the electives in high school. The programs offered at OTC include cosmetology, nursing, culinary, electrical, welding and cyber security.

“We offer daytime and evening classes, so our school is busy from 7 a.m. to 10 at night,” said Grimes. “Our programs generally take about a year and a half to complete which is what’s so great about it.

“We’re nonprofit. We’re not here to increase our tuition or try and make a buck. We’re here to help them find a job,” he added.

Grimes offered a piece of advice to any student still trying to decide what they want to do with their future.

“Specialize in something and do great with it,” he said.

For more information about the programs offered at OTC, visit www.otcollege.net.