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Classroom to Careers: Future construction workers earn credits, credentials and cash

Posted at 8:40 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 08:40:13-04

ARCADIA — A state-funded program is giving students the opportunity to learn new trades all while earning credits and a wage.

Hamilton Heights High School was the first to do it, bringing a State Earn and Learn program with a focus on construction right to the classroom.

For the last year, the students have been working on a new playhouse for Hamilton Heights Preschool.

The playhouse was built by Hamilton Heights students, under the guidance of instructor Eric Fisher.

"We get a blueprint for the semester and it's supposed to be done by the end of the semester and we get a bunch of OSHA10 training to qualify to work at actual companies,” said Zach Fessel, a student at Hamilton Heights.

The class is part of a pathway for the State Earn and Learn program, after completing required classes students have the opportunity to earn credits, credentials and cash.

“If they are on time academically beginning of their junior year, they can go out in the community we can partner them with companies and they can get paid a wage and get high school credit,” said Eric Fisher.

It’s essentially an internship for the young builders, a way to add more hands-on experience to their toolbelts.

"It's actually something a lot of people take for granted, like not a lot of people get this stuff. Like next year it set me up where halfway through the year I can leave and get an internship at other companies,” said Fessel.

This is exactly what Luke Thesier did. The program set him on a ladder to success, and now he's heading to Purdue University to study construction.

"It really helped me set in stone what I wanted to do. It's very new. I wish I could come back for another year and go through it again,” said Thesier.

Fisher said the construction industry would benefit from more programs like this one.

"The workforce and the construction industry (are) dwindling. More are exiting because of retirement than are coming in,” said Fisher.

This class isn't just connecting students to future careers, it's teaching them life skills as well.

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