Iredell-Statesville Schools’ summer enrichment camps expose students to construction, welding, culinary, robotics, engineering, aviation and other trades and skills. 

BY KARISSA MILLER

The sound of power tools, pounding and hammering could be heard outside the Career Academy & Technical School last week during the Iredell-Statesville Schools’ Career and Technical Education Construction Camp.

CATS Instructor Robert Waugh led a construction project that was being carried out by middle school and rising ninth-grade students.

“These are shingles. They nail four nails per shingle and they start at the bottom,” Waugh explained.

The students were installing a replacement roof that is used by CATS Fire Academy students and the Troutman Fire Department for training. The project is designed to present new opportunities to students and spur their interest in the construction industry.

Anna Deselem, a rising-seventh grader, was one of the crew members hammering shingles in and learning how to install a roof.

“I’ve liked going out of my comfort zone and doing things I wouldn’t do on a normal day,” she said.

Anna said that her family works in construction. She thought that the camp would be a fun way to test out a career.

“I’ve liked making stuff out of wood and I’m surprised by all the things that you can make out of wood,” she said.

Each student also made a bird house out of wood, painted it and took it home at the end of the week.

Construction Camp was just one of many CTE summer camps taking place at CATS throughout the week. Other camps focused on Welding, Acting, Culinary, Aviation and Auto Tech.

“These camps provide an opportunity for middle and high school students to explore and experience a career pathway, hobby or interest,” explained Juli Tipton, I-SS career development coordinator for middle school

One of the largest barriers to students enrolling in a technical education program is not knowing what the opportunities are. This is why the CTE Department is focused on engaging students at a young age.

“I think when students get hands-on experience using a welder or tools, it sparks their interest. It’s not the same as staring at a screen. I think for students it’s exploratory, confidence building and starting a conversation about careers. They can talk with instructors, who are experts, in that field,” Tipton said.

Most of the camps were at capacity because they try to keep a small teacher-to-student ratio in order for students to get more time with the instructors.

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