Great Plains Technology Center “Showcases” 21 Career Tech programs to 14-hundred visiting sophomores!

More than 14-hundred sophomores from Great Plains Lawton campus partner schools experienced “Tech Showcase” on November 28-30.  Each student participated in hands-on activities in two programs of their choice.  (Click here to view high school programs/videos).  “Showcase is about helping empower high school students to make the right choices about career education and their futures”, said Joelle Jolly, Director of Student Support Services.  “These personal hands-on experiences elevate career awareness among our visiting sophomores”, she said.  “They also help Great Plains work toward its primary goal of getting the right student enrolled in the right program for the right reason.”  Jolly added that students are given an enrollment application before they leave Tech Showcase.  Her staff of counselors will personally interview all high school applicants for the 2018-2019 school year at Great Plains.

More than 1,400 fifth graders explore career possibilities

Great Plains Discovery Zone introduced more than 1,400 fifth graders to eight different career areas. The students from Lawton Public Schools (and several other Great Plains partner schools) discovered how to make slime in Biomedical Sciences, lift a fingerprint in Criminal Justice and listen to their hearts by using a stethoscope in the Health Class. Students spent 15 minutes in each of the eight areas. Discovery Zone is one of several career awareness activities sponsored by Great Plains including a summer camp (Career Connections) for sixth, seventh and eighth graders and Tech Know Zone for eighth graders. The two week long Tech Know Zone will be held at the Lawton campus in late October.

Online Courses by ed2go

Learn more about Great Plains online choices in this article from the Lawton Constitution.  Thanks to reporter KW Hillis and photographer Michael Pope.


If you are interested in Auto Body Technology as a career there’s never been a better time to get started at Great Plains.  There are immediate openings in the full-time Combination Collision program for both adult and high school students.  Tuition is free for high school students.  Financial aid is available to adult students who qualify.  Students who graduated from high school as recently as 2015 may qualify for a $1,575.00 Dr. George Bridges Next Step Scholarship.  For more information please contact Student Services at 580.250.5535.


With the Great Plains Technology mobile app, you can stay up-to-date with what’s happening on campus with a touch of the button! Easily navigate through current news and events, job announcements, or check out the latest updates with social media like Facebook and Twitter. Quickly retrieve contact information, view course catalogs, and receive important announcements through push notifications and more. The GPTC mobile app is your technology center at your fingertips! It’s easy to use and FREE to download from the App Store or Google Play. Be in the loop and in the know with the Great Plains Technology Center mobile app.

GPTC Mobile App!

Apple Store
Android Market

Instructional Vehicles Purchased with Johnston-Scott Contribution

AST instructors, Allen Whittaker (l) and Michael Thomason show-off instructional vehicles purchased with $25,000 Johnston-Scott contribution.

Automotive Service Technology instructors Michael Thomason and Allen Whittaker know how to stretch a dollar.  They were able to take a $25,000 contribution to the program from Janey Johnston-Scott, couple it with a small expenditure from the school and turn the funds into two instructional vehicles.  Both instructors felt strongly that the newer vehicles, (both 2013 models) should have driver assist features such as braking assist, lane swerve notification and rear back-up cameras.  “It’s important that we introduce these features to our AST students”, Thomason said.  “Driver assist is where the entire automotive industry is headed”.  Mrs. Scott made the $25,000 contribution in memory of her father, Julius Johnston, an original member of the Great Plains Board of Education—and for whom Great Plains Automotive Service Technology Building, (#400) is named.  The instructors were able to purchase a 2013 Chevy Equinox from Milo Gordon Mazda.  The instructors were very thankful and complimentary to the Mazda General Manager, Brady Wyatt and to Dan Mullins, owner of Fleetway Car Sales for selling the Buick Verano. Mullins serves on the Great Plains Technology Center Foundation Board.  The technology center board of education approved $3,000 to the $25,000 contribution to make the vehicle purchases possible.

Conference Table

It took the Great Plains village to custom build a one ton, 17ft. x 6’ Conference Table

AST instructors, Allen Whittaker (l) and Michael Thomason show-off instructional vehicles purchased with $25,000 Johnston-Scott contribution. (Click here to read more)


They say it takes a village to raise a child – well it took many members of the Great Plains Technology Center village to custom-build a one-ton conference table for the new Business Development Center. When Lawton businessman Buddy Green made a significant contribution to help Great Plains build the center, Superintendent, Clarence Fortney felt it was appropriate to name its largest conference room in Green’s honor. Fortney also thought it was appropriate to create a conference table with an industrial design that not only complemented the Buddy Green Conference Room but also represented the overall feel of the 28,000-square-foot center. Fortney’s vision was to create a centerpiece for the largest conference room in the building. The 17-foot by 6-foot table achieved his vision.

Fortney, who began his career at Great Plains as a welding instructor teacher’s aide in 1980, knew the project would require “many hands on deck.” He worked with four Great Plains trades and industrial instructors and dozens of their students to design and build the conference table that anchors the Green Conference Room. Design and construction began in January and was completed in May – just in time for the ribbon cutting ceremony that formally opened the Business Development Center. They began with a vision and worked together to realize that vision, just as clients seeking to start or grow a business can grow their vision in the Business Development Center.

Fortney worked with Trace Browning, Tech Exploration instructor, and Allen Bellamy, welding instructor, to design the table’s steel framework, legs and red iron support beams. Browning used a plasma cutter to create patterns for the table.  Since the largest metal bender in Bellamy’s Great Plains welding shop would handle only 2-inch-wide steel, he bent the table’s metal components by hand and then welded the legs together. Bellamy estimated the legs account for about 1,700 pounds of the table’s massive weight.

As Browning and Bellamy worked on the metal components, carpentry instructor Clayton Snodgrass and construction trades instructor Tanner Biggs began the process that created the wooden tabletop. Snodgrass said the crew used reclaimed oak from Wal-Mart and Home Depot boxcars to create the table surface. The construction crew sanded each oak plank ten times and applied a coat of finish between each sanding. They finished the tabletop with a coat of piano lacquer to give it a distinctive dark sheen.

Snodgrass lent his artistic eye to the finish of the metal for the tabletop. He used a three-step process to give the metal a rusty industrial feel. First, he washed the steel in muriatic acid. He then followed with two coats of a chemical process called pickling. His final step was coating the metal with a combination of ammonia, sea salt and hydrogen peroxide.

When it came time to assemble the table, it was clear the table would have to be assembled in the Green Conference room, where it will stand permanently. Students in the trade and industrial programs carefully moved the table’s legs to the conference room. Another crew disassembled and numbered the wooden tabletop components in Snodgrass’ shop. They then moved the tabletop to the conference room to be reassembled the week before the Business Development Center’s grand opening.  The hand crafted table drew scores of compliments from persons who attended the grand opening, including Green.

The Business Development Center is an Oklahoma Certified Business Incubator that provides a nurturing business environment for tenant and client entrepreneurs who are engaged in commercial food production or commercial arts as well as for small business owners who need light industrial space.  In addition to the Buddy Green Conference Room, the incubator has individual and shared office spaces, the Comanche Nation Rapid Prototyping Lab, a smaller conference room and the 80 seat McMahon Lecture Hall.

The public may reserve any of the meeting rooms by contacting Cody Holt, Business Development Center manager, (580) 250-5519 or


Pre-Engineering instructor Trecia Karinshak and Pre-Engineering Junior, Hope Chambers were both honored recently by the National Center for Women in Information Technology, NCWIT.  Mrs. Karinshak won the 2017 Oklahoma Affiliate Educator’s Award while Hope won NCWIT’s 2017 Award for Aspirations in Computing.  Mrs. Karinshak coached Great Plains Soldiers of Technology VEX Robotics Team that competed successfully at the Oklahoma state championship and qualified to compete at both the National VEX Robotics Championship in Omaha and the World Championship that was held in Louisville.

Business Development Center – Formally Open

Great Plains formally opened its business incubator, the Business Development Center on Friday, May 4th. A standing-room-only crowd showed up to celebrate completion of the 28,000 sq. ft. facility, Southwest Oklahoma’s newest business incubator.

L-R, Clarence Fortney, Great Plains Superintendent; Arthur Patrick, president of the GPTC Board of Education; Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch, and Dr. Tom Thomas, President of the Lawton Economic Development Corporation and former Superintendent of Great Plains, officially cut the ceremonial ribbon for Great Plains new Business Development Center, an Oklahoma Certified Business Incubator.

The Business Development Center is an attempt at “do-it-yourself” economic development. Its goal is to take fledgling firms and provide space and business expertise so they can become freestanding businesses  and create jobs.

While the new center provides single and shared office space and light industrial spaces as do many incubators it offers two unique specialties.  A state-of-the art commercial kitchen is available to rent by caterers and businesses that want to commercialize their food products.  Oklahoma State University will assist with nutritional labelling for the latter. The center also has room for artists workshops and will help artists commercialize their work.

The Business Development Center is a great example of a public-private partnership, according to superintendent Clarence Fortney.  The McMahon Foundation provided $1.25 million and the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority $500,000. The Buddy Green family donated $100,000, as did the Comanche Nation. The Great Plains Technology Center Foundation provided more than $60,000 through a fundraising campaign that included more than 30 businesses and individual contributors.

“I don’t know what Lawton would be without McMahon and the vision and foresight of the McMahon family,” Great Plains Superintendent Clarence Fortney told the crowd gathered in the lecture hall of the facility named in the McMahon Foundation’s honor.

Dr. Tom Thomas, interim President of the Lawton Economic Development Corporation and former superintendent at Great Plains, said the idea for a business incubator was conceived nearly 20 years ago.  He said years of research and observation went into determining what would work in the Great Plains BDC and what to avoid.  Thomas said Great Plains has a history of building programs often in areas not considered a tech center’s primary responsibility.  He cited the city-county E-911 center located on the Great Plains campus as well as its SCORE high school dropout program and nationally award winning STEM programs (Pre-Engineering and Biomedical Sciences) as examples.  “Now we want to make sure the Business Development Center lives up to its potential”, he said.

“Tenants are scheduled to start moving in immediately”, Cody Holt, BDC manager, said.  Holt who worked as a small business consultant for 12 years for Great Plains Economic Development Center will manage the BDC. For information about the Business Development Center please contact Holt at, of 580.250.5519.  You can also visit the center’s web site at

Students Commit to Attend Great Plains Technology Center

Nearly 300 students solidified their commitment to attend GPTC for the 2017-2018 school year by signing an official Letter of Intent.

Students accepted into Great Plains Technology Center’s high school career majors completed their admissions process by signing an official Letter of Intent to attend Great Plains for the 2017-2018 school year during the inaugural Signing Day events at both the Frederick and Lawton Campuses. The Frederick campus held its Signing Day on April 27th, while the Lawton campus held its event on May 4th.

Similar to events associated with athletics, Signing Day activities solidified the students’ commitment to Great Plains Technology Center, as well as Great Plains ’commitment to the students and their families. Students, family members and high school representatives were invited to celebrate and help welcome the new students who made the decision to combine career and technology education at Great Plains with their high school experience.

Prior to the official Letter of Intent signing, students had an opportunity to meet new classmates, visit with the instructor in the classroom and become familiar with plans for the 2017-2018 school year. Formal signing took place every 30 minutes, following the classroom sessions. An informal reception followed each campuses’ festivities.