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story.lead_photo.caption Kelli Engelbrecht, right, and Shelly Henderson, a digital instructor at Eldon, chat Wednesday during the 50th year celebration appreciation dinner at the Eldon Career Center. Engelbrecht, who is the director at Eldon, will be retiring July 1, after 31 years. Photo by Mark Wilson / News Tribune.

ELDON, Mo. — Over its 50 years, the Eldon Career Center's offerings and approaches may have changed, but its goal has been constant.

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Director Kelli Engelbrecht said the center's inspiration and goal can be summarized by the words of former director Miles Beachboard.

"He said, 'I will offer anything the industry wants,'" recalled Engelbrecht. " The things that have changed have been what the industry wants, but that still holds true."

About 100 guests celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Eldon Career Center with an appreciation dinner Nov. 29.

"It's a celebration, too, on how much impact we've had," Engelbrecht said.

Originally, the Tri-County Technical School offered very few classes.

"We started out with very basic career offerings," Engelbrecht said. "In 1968, it was, 'What's a girl gonna do, what's a guy gonna do."

Since then the Eldon Career Center has expanded its offerings, while looking to the future for the next steps in programming and partnerships.

Engelbrecht said, "I guess it was in the '90s we changed to Eldon Career Center because the technical part was created much more thinking of very specific jobs and so now we don't even know what students are going to do in the future."

The program still serves some schools in Miller, Morgan and Cole counties, and provides education, transition assistance and job placement.

This year, the newest addition included offering apprenticeships through the Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program. Four students officially signed on with employers in October.

Apprenticeships provide students with paid career training for two years. After completing the program, students receive certification and increase the likelihood they will be hired within that field.

Engelbrecht said of the apprenticeship program, "It's neat that it's in our 50th year because that's where we're headed."

The career center is focusing on next level skills and new technology going forward.

"I think celebrating the 50 years, one thing you kinda look at what changed and what stayed the same," she said.