Mount Si trades program grounds students in high-demand fields

For Mount Si High School senior Nic Donate, learning the balance between creating art and working toward a professional goal while communicating in a collaborative environment is just part of what he's achieving by attending classes in Mount Si's Construction Technologies Department.

In his construction technologies class, he was given the assignment of making hanging planters for the school's library, as commissioned by the library.

In his metals class, he and his team are seeing the planter project through. He serves as foreman for the group.

Donate said he knows that this experience is good training for anything in life.

"It's no different than a job," said teacher Greg Meyers, the head of the department who worked in construction for years before becoming a teacher.

After about a month of work in the one-hour-a-day class, the finished product should be completed by next week.

The metals class has about 10 different projects going on at any one time, Meyers explained. They are each done to industry standards and the end product is sold, auctioned, donated or put on display, as specified in the job request.

At the end of training, students in the class may receive vocational college credit or become certified or eligible for certification in an area of expertise through the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Education and Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to help educate students about the science of construction. Students also have access to the organization's apprenticeship and scholarship programs.

The Mount Si program emphasizes collaboration between specific focus areas, just as a professional, real world setting would require, Meyers said.

The construction technologies class teaches the basic concepts and skills, while the metals class turns them into practical application. There are also architectural design and woodworking classes in the department.

"It's a three-way marriage between an architect, a builder and the owner," Meyers said.

Construction technology as a whole involves conversing with clients, producing estimates and designs, critical thinking and making decisions, skills that are valuable in real life and for any job, Meyers noted.

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