Prospect High School adds construction classes to give students real-world experience

OROVILLE — Students at Prospect High School are getting first-hand experience with construction.

Prospect High teamed up with Chico company Valley Contractors Exchange to deliver hands-on construction education to students.

Students will earn work-ready National Center for Construction Education and Research Certifications. Prospect High School launched its construction career and technical education program in August. In the program, students learn about construction careers and the basics of construction, using construction tools.  Prospect High School is currently the only school in the Oroville Union High School District with a woodshop and offering this program.

“It gives me a sense of satisfaction,” said Dave Milano, construction education teacher at Prospect High. “The kids go away with construction skills and learn how to be successful in life. They learn about tools and attention to detail.”

Milano said the students learn many aspects of the construction field.

“You learn problem solving skills and life lessons. Everything you do affects everything else you do,” Milano said. “Creativity is a component of it. They’re building relationships.”

Milano teaches five periods per day of construction classes. The class is an elective and counts toward graduation. He received his contractor’s license in 2007, but saw the teacher position come up and decided to make a career shift. He used to coach kids’ football and enjoyed it.

“I saw this job and it kept me close to home,” Milano said. “I enjoy working with the kids. There’s a need for it. I always wanted to be a teacher.”

Tim Drury, Prospect High’s principal, said that most of the students will go straight into the workforce after high school.

“They’re learning workforce skills to be job ready,” Drury said. “If they find a job doing this they’ll make a little more money. They’ll probably go on to Butte College or trade school.”

Prospect High, a continuation high school, has a student body of 300 students.

Amy Rohrer, executive director of Valley Contractors Exchange, was on hand Tuesday working with the students. “We’re recruiting anyone willing to work,” she said. “We need a workforce. It’s empowering. Kids are getting hands-on tools. We have a town to rebuild.”

Valley Contractors Exchange works mainly with at risk youth. They also work with the Boys and Girls Club.

Rohrer is proud of the female students and said the girls are “amazing.”

“We want women to know they are perfectly capable of doing this. It’s rewarding,” she said.

Prospect student Jasmine Reynoso is one of the female students taking the class.

“It was a bit awkward at first,” she said. “But the boys are really helpful. They don’t make you feel like you’re doing something wrong.”

The majority of the students are trying out construction to see if they like it. They are engaging with professional contractors to learn how to construct residential basics including roughing, or installing electrical cables, on a four feet wide by eight feet tall framed out wall. They are also trimming out receptacles, switches, load centers, hanging a LED light and testing out an electrical system. The partnership with Valley Contractors Exchange launched Nov. 2 and runs for six weeks.

The program will help with filling a pipeline of highly needed construction workers because of the construction of homes and buildings in areas impacted by the Camp Fire, as well as growing construction needs in the region, according to the school. Prospect High offers students the opportunity to accelerate their high school completion, complete credit recovery and earn their high school diploma on a year-round basis.

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