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LCTC adds building program

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The course offerings at LeCroy Career Technical Center have expanded again this year with the addition of a building and construction two-year program.

“We are trying to go through building and construction, giving them a sample of as many aspects of construction as I can,” teacher Robert Pittman said.

In these beginning classes of the semester, Pittman said he is focusing on safety and learning what tools will be used.

“A lot of the kids have not seen half of the tools we have in here,” Pittman said.

Despite a lack of experience, the students are learning quickly, Pittman said.

The class is starting with the basics, including how to read a tape measure, and will build from there. Many of the projects they are tackling this first semester will be repairs needed on campus.

“That’s great experience,” Pittman said. “That is real life, real world experience for these kids.”

The program will work “in conjunction” with some of the existing programs at the technical center.

“We’re helping them, and they’re helping us,” Pittman said.

Pittman said a recent project was doing stud work around a window in the welding class.

The plan is to cover fundamentals of framing, carpentry, painting as well as concrete pouring and finishing. There will also be some work on how to read blueprints.

“There is a good bit of math,” Pittman said.

Pittman said because he was hired after many of the students had set their schedules for the semester, class size is small. There are six students in the program. However, this is expected to increase when students apply next year. Moving forward, students will apply to the program during their sophomore year to start the program as juniors in high school. The program will follow the same interview process as the other programs at LeCroy.

As a part of the simulated workplace aspects of the program, each class starts with a safety meeting. Students are taught guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Center for Construction Education & Research.

Pittman said he has students lead these sometimes.

Commercial construction will be the focus of the program.

“My expertise is in commercial,” Pittman said. “Really there is not a really big difference in (commercial and residential construction.) There is more metal stud work and stuff in commercial. You are doing a lot more remodeling than you are new construction.”

The demand for commercial construction is higher than the demand for residential construction, he said.

Pittman, who lives in Jemison, has worked in the construction industry since 1984.

“Teaching the kids — I really enjoy it,” Pittman said.

He often was the one who taught new employees when they came to a job site.

Pittman said coming to LeCroy gives him an opportunity to “try something new” and help high school students be better prepared for their first construction job.

“My goal is to get these kids where when they go to apply for a job, they at least have a grasp on something — they are not going into it totally blind not knowing what they’re doing,” Pittman said. “That also makes them a desirable candidate for hiring.”

He said each company does things a little bit differently but knowing the basics does make a difference.