By Senior Isaac Meszaros
I am a senior at Thurston High School and to be honest, the typical school setting is not exactly my thing. Fortunately, William D. Ford Career Center has been a great opportunity for me for the past two years because I was able to learn and gain tremendous skills, friends, and great knowledge I can use for years in my career path of carpentry.
The normal day consists of morning online classes, biology, and English. In my eyes, the morning and afternoon school day is like Jekyll and Hyde. In the morning, there’s a lot of daily battles. I would go through the hard lesson plans and struggle my way in school and try to keep making it worth to go. As soon as I got to go to William D. Ford last year, I saw that the construction class I was enrolled in was for me and every minute I’m there I was like a little kid in a candy store. I am able to grasp and learn as much I can and I gain both my construction tech 1 and 2 certification.
Mark Valchine II, Construction Technology II Instructor at the William D Ford Career and Technical Center in Wayne Westland Community Schools is my instructor.
“Isaac is enrolled in the Construction Technology II program. It is an on-site based program that focuses on real life learning experiences. In this program the students build a home from the ground up. He spends 2.5 hours a day, approximately 12.5 hours a week. The students learn many different skills: rough carpentry, finish carpentry, roofing, siding, flooring – wood and tile, cabinetry, drywall, painting, window and door installation, “ said Valchine.
Most importantly, the learn to be team players.
“They learn to accept responsibility of a job and see it through. Team work is a key factor in the class. Learning to lead others and follow when appropriate is the most valuable soft skill they learn,” said Valchine.
Many students like myself have benefitted from this program.
“The program utilizes Community Service Learning Projects to teach the students to give back and improve the community they are a part of. In the past two years, the program has built two pavilions in community parks, built 30 free little libraries, participated in the conversion renovation of the Jefferson Barns community center, and built two homes for local families,” said Valchine.
2040 Player Circle, Westland, MI will be the third house. The home is sold on the open market by the realtor who sits on the program’s advisory board. The home is a 1300 square ft Energy Efficient brick ranch with a 2 car attached garage. The home features an open floor concept with 3 beds, 2 baths, and first floor laundry. It has a Master suite with walk in closet, full basement and a 350 sq ft deck.
I get the honor to continue in the program next year as well as take a welding class.
“We have many success stories. 95 percent of our completers either go on to college or stay in the construction field. The electrical company that we use to wire our home is made up entirely of graduates from our program. For the past four years we have produced the state gold medalist for the Skills USA Carpentry Competition and competed Nationally as representatives for the State of Michigan. We have students that chose to stay locally and work for local companies and those that chose to work for national companies,” said Valchine.