Summer school gives kids look at career opportunities

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald - Alicia Diaz analyzes her welding project. Alicia was part of the summer school advanced manufacturing class at Columbia Basin Skills Center.

MOSES LAKE — Students in the construction trades class were confronted with a pile of wooden pallets and a challenge – build something. Students in the automated manufacturing and design class were handed cardboard and balsa wood, and the challenge of building an airplane that would fly.

Welcome to summer school at Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center.

Summer school director Chad Utter said the two-week program is designed to show incoming freshmen and sophomores some of the possibilities in career fields that interest them. “A chance to explore something new,” he said.

The culinary class conducted their own version of “Cupcake Wars.” Criminal justice students got a visit from the TRT (tactical response team) unit owned by the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. And that doesn’t even count the kids who flew drones, learned to weld, learned to use the 3D printer and worked on computer games. “They did a lot,” Utter said.

The skills center program during the academic year is open to juniors and seniors, in part because freshmen and sophomores usually don’t have room in the class schedule. Students who complete summer school get one-half a high school credit, Utter said.

It also gives kids a look at sophisticated concepts, like aerodynamics. “Mine didn’t fly very well," said one airplane designer, inspecting his model. “The wings – they’re long enough, but maybe not wide enough.”

Ivan Dominguez didn’t have a good place to store his audio system at his house in Warden, so he built a shelving unit from pallets. He worked on the project while on crutches.

Alicia Diaz said she likes the idea of leaving something behind her. She’s seen construction sites while traveling, and heard stories of the people building those buildings. “It would be really cool to drive down the road and say, ‘That’s what I built,' or 'I helped build that.’”

So Alicia enrolled in welding classes in summer school. “I really, really like it. I’m really having fun with it.”

Dalice Hardman, Warden, plans to become an architect, and her brother built some really cool stuff while in construction trades summer school. So she enrolled in the construction trades class. She built a planter for sweet potatoes – her design, built to her mom’s specifications.

Chloe Padilla, Moses Lake, said she doesn’t plan a career in or around the shop, architecture or the trades. But she wants to know what to do if she needs home repairs or wants to do a home improvement project. “I really want to learn how to do things myself.”

Her dad is a shop teacher, she said, but she didn’t know much about carpentry until she took the skills center class. “It’s really cool. I like it a lot.”

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