NORTH BEND — Ground has been broken for the new North Bend Trade Building.
On Friday, the North Bend School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be home to a brand new curriculum covering construction, including tile setting and masonry.
North Bend School District Superintendent Bill Yester breaks ground on Friday for the new trade building at the high school.
“The opportunity at North Bend is basically that we can have several facets of the construction trades introduced to the kids and they can find out what they like,” said Garrett Holmes, the new teacher for the trade program.
Though the building isn’t anticipated to be finished until March 15, the program begins with the first semester as soon as school is back in session. Space has been made in the woodshop classroom for Holmes to teach.
As Holmes described the program, once year two begins in 2019/2020, it will be focused on pre-apprenticeship work and core construction study.
“It will be more directed than when I was in school,” he laughed.
Holmes is actually a graduate from North Bend High School, having attended 30 years ago. While a student, he participated in a course focused on home building.
“We’d build a house from the ground up and I probably learned more there than any other class I ever took and I went on to get a master’s degree,” he said.
Though Holmes earned a degree in wilderness management and later worked in the forest service, he always found himself back in the trades.
“I became a lifelong builder and ended up on the San Juan Islands in Washington and built amazing homes up there,” he said.
It was only after his wife became an art teacher in the area that they came back. He recalled complaining that there wasn’t anything for kids as far as trade study like there had been for him when he saw the job open up.
As the program progresses into year three in 2020/2021, it will allow for internships with community partners.
“We have several construction companies that approached us saying they need people interested in the trades,” Holmes said. “Our current education model hasn’t allowed it, but now we are changing that.”
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In fact, as Holmes pointed out, growing high school trade programs has become a national movement.
“Now we are at the forefront of a trend where there are these construction jobs ready to roll and no labor force,” he said. “A lot of schools are expanding their trade programs to create vocational opportunities for students because college isn’t the best opportunity for some or didn’t appeal to them.”
One of Holmes’ students this coming school year is Ty Hampton, a senior, who said he is excited to begin the trade program because for him it is about learning how to do household projects.
“You should be able to work on things around the house and not pay someone all the time,” he said. “It’s good to understand what’s happening in your house. It’s a good skill to have, not even to make into a career.”
Holmes said he has been asked by some upcoming students who told him they don’t want to work in construction, to which he has replied, “Do you live in a house? Because these are fundamental things we can teach.”
Superintendent Bill Yester sees the new North Bend Trade Building as a positive addition to the district and the high school.
“It is also a great thing for the community because we will have kids learning different skills that will give them a career someday, if they want it,” he said. “We are proud of this project and appreciate the people who took time to work on this and the partnerships we’ve made through this.”
During the ceremony, as he stood with a shovel before removing the first bit of dirt, Yester thanked the three committees that worked on this project for over a year.
“The high school administration, with Jake Smith, was a huge part of getting this together, as well as Bill Lucero,” he said to the crowd in attendance. “HGE’s Joe Slack, who sometimes I feel only works for us, is there whenever we need him and we appreciate it.”
Former high school principal, Bill Lucero, joined the sentiments afterwards, adding how excited he is to see this dream come to fruition.
“We’ve dreamed on it for years and worked on it for a couple years,” he said. “When it is finished we will have opportunities we’ve never had before for kids and will get more kids engaged.”
NBHS Vice Principal Jake Smith plans on keeping this momentum headed in the right direction.
“We hope this becomes a magnet for the South Coast,” he said. “We hired the right teacher who is knowledgeable about kids and the trades. We felt if we could hire the right person for the program, the program would take off and you never know until the hire happens. Now that Garrett is here, I’m confident the program will continue to grow.”