History of Burton

  • What is now known as the Burton Center for Arts and Technology started in September of 1962 with 75 eleventh and twelfth graders.  The Roanoke County Education Center or RCEC was housed in the Roanoke County Schools Administration Building in Salem.  The students were enrolled in Auto Mechanics, Cosmetology, Drafting, and Electronics.

    School year 1963 – 1964 saw five more classes added to the offerings of the Roanoke County Education Center.  Students were able to take Auto Body, Carpentry, Machine Shop, Masonry, and Practical Nursing.

    In 1964, with the Administration Building becoming too small to house the RCEC classes, the first building (currently Building C), was built for $265,000.00.  Data Processing and Distributive Education were added to the class listing.

    The current Building A was built in 1966 at a cost of $295,000.00.  It was at this time that Academic Courses were offered alongside the vocational classes.

    In 1970, Commercial Arts, Industrial Electricity, and Small Engine Repair were offered.  Due to inadequate class space at the Roanoke County Education Center, Commercial Arts, Drafting, and Industrial Electricity classes were held at the Administration Building in Salem.

    The 1971 school year saw the addition of Business Vocations to the RCEC roster.  Students were able to take Accounting, Administration, Business Education, COE, and Data Processing.

    In 1978, Roanoke County Education Center was renamed the Roanoke County Vocational-Technical School or Vo-Tech, for short.  The following year, the current Building B was built for $1.5 million dollars.  Child Care, Commercial Foods, and Horticulture were added to the class schedule.

    The school has undergone three more name changes: Arnold R. Burton Vocational-Technical School (Vo-Tech) in 1980, Arnold R. Burton Technology Center (ARBTC) in 1989, and Burton Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT) in 2008.  In 1990 – 1991, the enrollment was 352; today BCAT’s enrollment is over 850 students.

    Students today take classes in Auto Service Technology, Building Trades, Computer Information Technology, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Cyber Security, Early Childhood Education, EMT, Game Design,  Masonry, Mechatronics, Motorsports, Nursing and Welding.  Four Specialty Centers offer students classes in Engineering, Mass Communications, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts. We also provide specialized instruction for English Language Learners from the middle and high school levels.