A Legacy of Regional Cooperation
1965 to Present
New Horizons Regional Education Center is a regional facility that was created to meet both industry needs for a skilled workforce and student needs for obtaining technical training. The school first opened in 1965 at the renovated Copeland Park Elementary School located in Hampton, Virginia. The institution was originally named the Virginia Peninsula Vocational Technical Education Center and was commonly called Vo-Tech. The first high school faculty consisted of five teachers which served a student body consisting of 85 students.
The Center began to serve the adult population of the community in 1966 with continuing education classes and apprentice-related instruction offered in the evening and on Saturday mornings. Training for disadvantaged adults was made available through federal employment and training programs the same year.
As years passed, the Center continued to expand to meet an increasing school population as well as increased industry demands. In 1978, through the vision of the area superintendents, a second campus was built at Woodside Lane in Newport News, Virginia. This new facility was comprised of a single 78,000 square-foot building specifically built to accommodate the latest in technical programs. New programs in horticulture, landscape management, and food service were added to the curriculum and those programs with high student and industry demand were duplicated.
Also in 1978, the employment and training programs were moved to a renovated training center in the Buckroe area of Hampton, Virginia. This third campus served the regional community as a skill center for the next decade.
To keep pace with technological demand and student growth, the need for a facility to replace the Copeland Park site was soon apparent. In 1985, on a parcel of land adjacent to Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia Governor Robb and the General Assembly authorized $2.5 million in state funds to construct the Butler Farm Road campus. Located in a technologically rich industrial park, the new facility consisted of four buildings in a campus environment with a total of 104, 00 square feet of instructional and laboratory space. At the time, the Board of Trustees changed the name from the Virginia Peninsula Vocational Technical Center to New Horizons Technical Center.
An exciting addition in 1985 to this new facility was the addition of a Governor’s School for Science and Technology. This program was one of four schools in the state authorized by the Virginia Board of Education and offering college-level courses to the top science students of the Virginia Peninsula.
In 1993, the superintendents and members of the Board of Trustees of New Horizons Technical Center further expanded the mission of the Center by incorporating a highly successful regional special education program known as the Peninsula Area Cooperative Educational Services (PACES) into the services provided at New Horizons. In 1994, the special education programs were moved to the Woodside Lane campus and the name of the center was changed again to New Horizons Regional Education Center.
These new special education programs served seriously emotionally disabled youth and autistic youth between the ages of 4 and 21 years. The service areas were divided into Newport Academy for the ED students and the Children’s Center for students with autistic students. The programs have grown today into premier examples of regional day treatment facilities for specialized educational programs. A third campus site (Kiln Creek Elementary) and fourth campus site (York Middle School), along with the Woodside Lane facility, now make up what is know as the Center for Autism.
New Horizons Regional Education Center operates today as Virginia’s oldest and largest multi-campus regional education center. The center currently serves 1,505 high school students in all programs, 24 pre-school day-care students, and approximately 1,200 adults. A dedicated staff of over 300 employees, and active partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College, Peninsula Council For Work Force Development, Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, and business community, along with the ability to adapt to the changing nature of the workplace enables New Horizons Regional Education Center to meet the challenges of the past and chart a course for success in the future.