LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Mudding, sanding and electrical wiring... these are all skills that are highly sought after in today's society.
"We were approached by many of the construction people in the area, and they said there is a need for these people. These skilled people," said Nick Kalina, Central High School technology and engineering instructor.
So, while the La Crosse School District already has a construction and engineering program, they've decided to take the curriculum a step further by creating the construction academy for Juniors and Seniors at both Logan and Central High School.
"The juniors will take a construction systems class where they'll go through all the different parts of the construction industry, whether it be electrical, dry walling, general contractor; all these aspects," said Annette O'Hern, La Crosse School District school to work coordinator. "A second class will be construction careers where as the students are learning those systems, we'll make connections with the business community about what are the careers that are involved. What's the post secondary education that's involved or the training or apprenticeships. So, we can give students a good idea of what a career path could be."
The third component of the academy will be a related math class.
"Some of the cool projects we'll be able to do is take a look at, for example, if we're in a geometry class and we're talking about angles and things like that, lets take a look at pouring concrete," said O'Hern. "How do you figure out what the area is of the concrete you need to pour. We're taking a look at relating or applying some of those skills that you're learning in your math class to those skills that are needed in the construction industry."
And with the construction basics out of the way by the end of a student's junior year, the curriculum for seniors will switch to actual projects and construction work in the field through partnerships in the community.
"Through the city of La Crosse, they have a housing program," said Kalina. "I've approached them with the possibility of this construction academy; working together with the city with maybe getting a property or a site where we can work with them and with the housing program and be able to rebuild a home."
"If you can get specialized knowledge that's free before you go off to college or into trade school it's super helpful for you," said Thor Kolkind, Central High School senior. "You can do so much more with your life if you have that pre-based knowledge."
Which, according to the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, is a good background to have as Wisconsin is one of two states with the highest concentration of workers in the manufacturing sector in the nation.