MILLVILLE — For students in Millville High School’s construction trades class, what they learned can be found in the walls, ceilings and floors around them.

For the past few years, the students have helped enlarge the building where their classes are held.

They have laid block, installed sheetrock and insulation, painted and performed other jobs that they may have to do if they seek a career in the construction trades.

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The latest project involves turning a large, three-bay garage into the new home of the high school’s auto shop. Moving auto shop into the construction trades facility will free up space in the high school building for other uses, school officials said.

The work crew was small on a recent cold morning in late December: Sophomore Jessica McGough, 15, and 16-year-old junior Kimberly Reeves were both up on scaffolding painting a portion of a wall white. Dustin Hiles, 17, a senior, was bundled in warm clothes and a protective face mask as he cleaned trash from the worksite’s concrete floor.

“I think this is what I may want to do,” McGough joked as she wiped paint off her clothes and face.

McGough and Reeves, both of Millville, are the only two girls in the class of about 80 students. They said that does not mean they have to work harder to prove they are capable of working a construction trade.

“I like the work, putting stuff together,” Reeves said. “I think this was one of the best classes. It’s cool.”

Hiles, who also is a local resident, said the program is good for students who may opt for entering the workforce instead of going to college. He said he has learned some practical skills, even if he has to spend some time cleaning up other students’ messes.

What is important is that students who take the construction trades class really apply themselves to what they are learning, Hiles said.

“If you’re one of the kids who doesn’t want to learn, why do this at all,” Hiles said.

Instructor Dave Hitchner said one of the goals of the class is to provide the students with practical information that will help them work in the trades.

Some of that information Hitchner was imparting to students involves basic arithmetic they can use to figure out how much material is needed for a job. That requires the use of only a few basic equations, he told the class.

“Only the numbers change,” he said.

Some of the students asked why the calculations were necessary. They said they could always run out and get more materials if necessary.

But Hitchner told the class that time is money for a contractor. Ordering too much material also requires that contractor to unnecessarily spend money, he said.

Hitchner said that, overall, he is pleased with the work the students have done on the construction trades building. He admits that not all the block may be laid straight, and that some more mortar may be needed in places.

He said he hopes that the work can in part give students enough confidence to do well in the trades.

“At the end of the day, you can stand back and look at it,” he said.

Which is what McGough and Reeves were doing in the garage part of the building.

“We need more paint,” McGough said.

Contact Thomas Barlas:


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