Madison CTE students are making a visible difference in their communities

MARSHALL — In the past, it wasn’t common for students to claim outdoor spaces such as the courthouse lawn as their primary classroom, but for Madison High students in the nascent but curricular CTE program , it is becoming more and more common.

For the past two weeks, students in Madison High’s Career and Technical Education program have been laying bricks on the lawn of the Madison County Courthouse for a project contracted by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Madison High CTE teachers Bryan Sams and Brad Franklin worked alongside the students on the project. According to Sams, Acting County Executive Norris Gentry approached Madison CTE Director James Huey to enlist the students in the project.

“There are three different settings here, and we were asked to do the brick work and put the brick veneer around it – we’re just finishing those as far as the brick work and the cladding go. “Sams said. “We have a blueprint, and in the workshop we took the blueprint and put together a block formation of a wall section, and let the students look at the blueprint and then start creating it in a frame. workout. Now they’re actually putting the rubber on the road, so to speak.”

In a project that began Sept. 28, Madison High students are laying brick veneers for three sets that will eventually house monuments/plaques honoring the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.

According to Sams, the project includes a mix of carpentry students, Masonry II and Masonry III students.

Eventually, the three different brick sets will host monuments commemorating the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The two-week project started on September 28 and is scheduled to end on October 11.

Sams said the experiences, made possible through the program’s rich course offerings, provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on, real-life experience even before they graduate.

“(Experience) is almost as good, if not better than salary, in a way,” Sams said. “It’s fulfilling. It feels like a sense of accomplishment.”

Madison High Career and Technical Education students, including Ryan Thorpe, pictured here, install masonry for a project at the Madison County Courthouse under contract with the Daughters of the American Revolution

Madison County residents also supported the project, according to Sams and his students.

“We’ve had people stop and honk, stop and take a video, stop and ask what’s going on,” Sams said. “We had some shouts: ‘Great job. Glad to see it.'”

Sams said the group even had a resident who previously worked as a bricklayer to help them with their project.

“We got a lot of great feedback,” Sams said.

Students also noticed the support.

“A few people here and there throughout the day said we were doing a good job,” Mason Fisher said. “The support is there. We’re not used to being in large open public spaces.”

Fisher said he worked on a similar job in high school in 2020.

A group of Madison High Career and Technical Education students lay brick veneer for a project at the Madison County Courthouse under contract with the Daughters of the American Revolution

A job that is both specialized and rewarding

Madison High’s CTE program offers a wide range of courses for students, especially those who want to explore careers.

“We currently have masonry, carpentry, electrical, HVAC and plumbing, as well as an entry-level class of basic and durable construction,” Sams said.

Currently, Sams teaches masonry and carpentry, while Franklin leads HVAC, electrical, and plumbing classes. The program also offers an entry-level basic and sustainable construction class.

“We’re lucky to have a program like this,” Fisher said. “It’s a good experience because you find out what trades you might want to do. It will really help us in the long run. I’m taking an electrical course, and you never know when you might do it.”

Some of the students, like Ryan Thorpe senior, know they want to continue their experiences in a professional setting after graduation.

Thorpe, 17, who works for Haynie Towing in Marshall, said he had worked as a mechanic for eight years and planned to continue working in the field after graduation.

Others, like elders Danny Foley and Fisher, both 18, are considering serving in the armed forces. Foley enlisted in the Marines, while Fisher plans to serve in the Air Force. Fisher, who is currently enrolled in courses in masonry, carpentry, electrical and metal fabrication, said he originally planned to pursue a career in metal fabrication before settling on the Army. the air.

“I plan to retire there, hopefully around 30, and then open my own body shop,” Fisher said. “I’ve been in this all my life too.”

Madison High carpentry and masonry teacher Brad Franklin, right, worked alongside other vocational and technical students for a contracted project with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Foley said the courthouse project has been one of his favorite classroom experiences so far in his high school career.

“I work in construction in the summer, so it’s definitely more fun than being in a classroom,” said Foley, who last summer worked as a plumber’s assistant.

Junior Hank King, along with Foley, is one of four designated project managers within the group.

“You learn more useful things than you do in, say, Math III, depending on what you want to do,” King said.

According to Sams, the work experience offered to them through the CTE program will help these Madison students no matter where they end up.

“There’s no substitute for on-the-job training, workplace learning,” Sams said. “These guys are going through this while they’re in high school. They’ll be better prepared for the industry than a kid who just sat in the classroom. It’s not a knock on any of that.

“It’s just a great opportunity for guys to see, ‘Do you want to do this?’ They get the big picture of the professional workplace before they have families to support, and things like that.”

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