Over the next three days more than 550 eighth grade students are expected to take part in the 6th Annual Careers in Construction Week event at the Fort Scott Community College satellite campus in Pittsburg.
“We celebrate careers in construction hoping to inspire these young minds as they are getting ready to go into high school because in high school, especially as juniors and seniors, they can come and take college construction classes and get college credit and start on their degree or certificate as high school students,” said Judy Meister, the Occupational Recruiter for FSCC. “We’re hoping that this inspires the up and coming residential/commercial builder – that’s what we’re doing.”
On Tuesday Baxter Springs Middle School, Southeast Junior High School and the first group from Pittsburg Middle School participated.
It’s the third year Southeast has taken part in the event and SJHS Principal Joe Martin said he likes that the event introduces the students to careers they may not know much about. Plus, he said, instead of reading about the career in a book, they get to try out the job, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
“And, there are a lot of jobs in construction,” said Southeast Junior High School Principal Joe Martin. “These guys also tell them they have to have the math and the science and writing to be able to do it, because some of this is trade stuff but some of it’s also construction management, things like that.”
Fourteen stations are set up and students get an opportunity to try out a wide variety of tasks, including learning how to operate heavy machinery using a simulator, bricklaying, using surveying equipment, seeing a drone operate firsthand, operating a backhoe a skid loader, welding and using tools like hammers, power tools and sanders.
“They’re going to make a project – a door plaque – while they’re here they’re going to do that and then they’ll decorate their plaque, there will be a station to do that,” said Meister. “They’ll learn what crane signals are, like those boom trucks that drop the train down, they’re going to see how the operator and signal person actually communicate with each other through signals.”
Meister said the number of students participating this year is much larger than last year. Last year there around 350 – this year, 555 students are expected.
An important part of Careers in Construction is letting students know that there are opportunities to take college classes to work towards a certificate or degree, while they are still in high school.
“Senate Bill 155 pays for students as juniors and seniors, pays their tuition to take these college classes. That’s never going to happen again – sure you might get a Pell grant – but students, I don’t know how long this is going to last,” Meister said. “There are many classes that as long as they are tiered and they have a Pathway then Senate Bill 155 will cover that. Sometimes the schools or the parents might have to pay lab fees but for the most part it’s paid for. That is another awesome opportunity.”
Southeast High School Counselor Kaci Coots said under current agreements high school students could have their Associate’s Degree when they graduate.
“We have students that are currently attending vocational school during their school day – they are also taking college credits at the same time,” Coots said. “By doing this, students are hoping to earn their Associate’s Degree before they graduate high school. These students will then be equipped with a trade, qualified to work in the field, make decent salaries, and can continue their education.”
All of Southeast’s pathways, including Agriculture Science, Audio and Visual Technology, Business, Design & Pre-Construction, Family and Community Services, and Power, Structural & Technical Systems have agreements with area colleges.
“We are working on getting a CNA course at Southeast High School for next semester,” Coots said. “This is also covered under SB 155. This is a great opportunity for students interested in the health field.”
Meister pointed out that FSCC couldn’t put on the event without its partners, Pittsburg State University, Home Center Construction, Volvo and Crossland Construction.
“We have such wonderful people who are involved,” Meister said.
On Wednesday, Frontenac Middle School and Fort Scott Middle School will participate. On Thursday, Girard Middle School, Northeast Middle School and a second group from Pittsburg Middle School will participate.
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