GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Students at Plainwell High School got a little break from their classes on Monday to try out carpentry, welding and more.
Plainwell was the first stop for the Schools to Tools Mobile Field Trip, a program run through the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights that aims to introduce students to trades. Students said it worked.
“I feel like here, they put college as a big priority. I think this is a good opportunity to show the other opportunities we have after high school,” junior Anthony Kolhoff said.
Students were able to practice hammering in a nail and using a power drill. They also checked out a 44-foot-long mobile trailer that has virtual and augmented reality experiences. Once they put on the VR goggles, students could see the job sites and tasks that carpenters and millwrights do.
“To see all of the different things that we do and then hear from our members the pride that they take in what they build and what that means for the communities they live and work in,” Steve Purchase, a spokesperson for the Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, said.
Tradesmen were on hand to help out students and answer any questions. Organizers say the program is a good way to expose students to careers they may not have considered.
“Many young people just don’t know that this is an option. So they go to college, they take on the student debt, they may even start another career that has a lower earning potential before they find out that this is an option,” Purchase said. “So we want to short-circuit that and just make sure every young person in the state knows that this is a valid and valuable option.”
The program is funded by a three-year $5 million grant from the state. The other major part of the program is professional development training for educators.
Schools to Tools will visit seven more high schools over the next week: Wayland Union High School, Godwin Heights High School, Paw Paw High School, Martin High School, Fennville High School, Parchment High School and Crossroads Alternative High School in Kentwood.