Garnett Kehn (left) works on the roof of a residential rancher at Carihi Secondary alongside classmate Christian Atfield. The two students are part of dual-credit carpentry program offered by North Island College and School District 72.

Construction students feel at home

Joint program gives Grade 11-12 students a head start

Jesse Young is still in high school but he’s getting a college-level education.

Young, a Grade 12 student at Carihi, is one of 21 students from Timberline and Carihi secondary schools studying residential carpentry through a joint program offered  by School District 72 and North Island College.

“I could build my own house,” says Young, because of the skills he has gained.

Amazingly, he had no prior experience going into the course but now he could not only build a house but also plan and design it.

“I’ve learned everything from how to hammer a nail, surveying, stair calculations, just everything,” he says. “The course really covers the whole building process, including laying a foundation.”

The dual credit, Ace-It Carpentry course, has existed for four years and allows students in Grades 11 and 12 to take Level One Technical Training for one semester each year at Carihi, free of cost. That’s followed up with a 10-week program at North Island College the summer after Grade 12.

By the time the students have graduated from high school, they have already completed one-quarter of the four-year carpentry program at the college.

“By the end of Grade 12 they come out with the technical training they need for an apprenticeship,” says Jeff Lontayao, Carihi career facilitator. “They’re doing math, they’re doing surveying, they’re drafting, they’re learning everything and anything about the construction industry.”

Rob Laird, course instructor and a journeyman carpenter, says students who take the program and go on to post-secondary education come out ahead.

“It’s a good program to help them get them going in their apprenticeship and it gives them a jump start,” says Laird.

Last year, the program boasted the top two highest marks of all Level 1 Carpentry ACE-IT students on Vancouver Island and two students earned scholarships.

Silas Levesque won a $500 Vancouver Island Construction Association Superstar Apprentice scholarship, which goes to an apprentice who has overcome obstacles and adversity.

Travis Seffzig was also awarded a $500 scholarship for achieving the highest overall marks in Level 1 Apprenticeship Technical Training.

The program is supported by Seymour Pacific Developments, a local construction company operated by Kris Mailman, which provides free lumber and other construction materials as well as safety training and relevant, practical work experience.

The supplies are used to construct a series of small houses, which can be easily taken down and the materials re-used. Right now, the class is working on three small ranchers from plans they drafted themselves.

Lontayao says by the end of the course the students will be ready and trained for any builder who wants  qualified and well-trained apprentices.