Building schools, means building skills for two Sun Prairie students

Published: Jan. 8, 2018 at 1:18 PM CST
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Sun Prairie will open two new elementary schools come fall of 2018. While the buildings are under construction, the school district has found a way they can be used for learning through a youth apprenticeship program.

'It's a lot better than being in a classroom," said Sun Prairie High School Senior Eric Blumer.

Sun Prairie High School seniors Dominic Cooper and Eric Blumer are participants in the school’s youth apprenticeship program. They've been hired by J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. to help construct the two new elementary schools in their own home town.

The youth apprenticeship program is a school-to-work initiative created by the state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the program is designed for students who want hands-on learning in specific occupations, alongside their classroom education.

"Right off the bat they threw me right in. I was not used to it, not having any knowledge, and it really worked out,” said Cooper.

Since October, the boys have received hands-on experience and mentorship by professionals at Findorff with more than two decades in the field.

"When I first got here we were pouring concrete. I wouldn’t be pouring concrete if I was at school," said Blumer

Sun Prairie High School has 26 students enrolled in the youth apprenticeship program. Students are employed in different fields, and receive school credit, work experience and are paid.

In addition, students also balance extra-curricular work. Blumer said on top of school and his apprenticeship, he also plays hockey.

"[I got] home at midnight last night and getting up at 7a.m. today is hard," said Blumer.

Eric and Dominic both hope to follow the trade into a career. As they look towards college, both acknowledge how this project brings their grade school education full circle.

"I live right next to the elementary school I went to and it's a lot of fun to know there’s going to be a lot of kids at both of these schools and I was a part of building them," said Blumer.