KPBSD Alaska Construction Academies

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More than 600 students participated in a construction and welding class during the 2011-2012 school year through the Alaska Construction Academies offered at KPBSD high schools. Of those 600, at least 150 students completed the first module of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), and a few students completed the Construction Math module and the Introduction To Hand Tools. Academies were announced via newspaper, e-mail, school newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, the district website, and flyers throughout the schools. Students can attend a class at any local high school.

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For the past two years, Nikiski instructor, Paul Johnson, has been dedicated to a remodeling project. He and students have been remodeling an old building into a well-structured Triumvirate Theatre. Each time we go and visit the site all of the students are working very diligently with all of their safety gear on. They are learning how to frame, sheetrock, mud and tape, solder and much more. The students are very proud of their work. This has been an ongoing project that will be a wonderful resource for the community and this project will continue next school year also.

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Barry Hartman held a construction academy in January 2012 at Skyview High School. Mr. Hartman and his students constructed a gazebo. This project allows students to work with many different tools such as the miter saw, table saw, band saw (for the fancy scrolling), drill press, circular saw, portable drill, impact driver and more. Mr. Hartman usually has community members contact him to request a gazebo be built for them. At the summer academy students will construct a car utility trailer.

Steve Schoessler held a welding academy this last quarter at the Workforce Development Center in Kenai. Mr. Schoessler had a mixture of different skill leveled students in his academy. The big project that the students worked on was the construction of a Sled Deck for a pick-up truck. Some smaller projects included: a fire pit, trailer crosspiece repair and receiver hitch caps. Schoessler mentioned they focused mainly on welding skill development in their projects.

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Ninilchik was happy to have to have the support from CEF to be able to work with the students and develop a project that would benefit the community. The students have built a playhouse that will be located on the fairgrounds in Ninilchik. This playhouse will be available for children to play in during the fair while the parents can sit and take a break. This project is like building a mini house. Students will learn the basic construction skills and also be framing the floor, walls, building the roof, installing windows, doors and much more.

Soldotna High School had a new instructor on board this year. Tyson Cox taught an Introductory to Plumbing Academy. He taught the students the basic care and use of tools, fittings and materials used in the plumbing and heating trade. They also learned how to safely transfer fluids and gases, how to solder copper pipe along with much more. There seems to be a large interest from students in plumbing so we hope to be able to offer this again next year.

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Mickey Todd in Homer had a great turnout for his first ever Welding Academy. He had 24 students attend and 20 of them completed the first module of the NCCER. They built a few ATV trailers.

Mike Boyle at Kenai High School had a construction academy this year. They built a shed that Kenai High will be purchasing for the use of lawn maintenance equipment. Seldovia offered their tri-academy again this year. Students fly over from Nanwalek and Kachemak Selo to participate in a two week academy. The students built a shed and a green house.

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The instructors evaluate the students with ongoing informal assessment by observing the safety of the students using machines and tools, and also by noticing if the students apply what they’ve learned later in the semester on a different application without having to repeat instructions. The instructors also give formal written tests midterm and for a final test. The best way to evaluate the skill level is in the final product such as the greenhouses, trailers, smoke houses, and so forth. The final product says a lot about the training they have received.

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About Alaska Construction Academies
During the 2011-2012 school year KPBSD was responsible for the outreach and basic skills training for students with an emphasis in basic carpentry skills, residential wiring, framing, plumbing, weatherization, gas metal and shielded metal arc welding, employability skills, basic computer aided drafting, CAD/CAM and blue print reading. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) is taught in all of our construction and welding academies.

Funds for the Alaska Construction Academies are provided to the Construction Education Foundation by grants from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

--Story contributed by Debbie Pearson