TEMPLE — Construction is booming in the Belton community, and it’s also a focal point in the Belton Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Department.
More than 200 students are enrolled in architecture and construction classes at Belton High School, and several of them advanced to state competition last week for their excellence in those areas.
At the district level of competition, Chris Foss won first place in masonry; Isaac Lujan won first place in cabinet making; Bryson Coufal, Austin Snyder, Eric Keis and Jonathan Huffman won first place in the TeamWorks competition, Devin Wagner was second in cabinet making and Ruben Romero was second in plumbing.
“This is an outstanding program,” CTE Director Lori Rockwood said. “We have great teachers who care a lot about students and learn skills which will directly help them in the workforce.”
Courses range from interior design to construction management.
Teachers in the department are Milissa Beechem, Rick Herrington and Craig Sullivan.
A variety of careers are available, with starting salaries ranging from $20,000 for construction workers to $35,000 for CNC (computer numerical control) operations.
Several local employees are partnering with the district, offering job shadowing opportunities, Rockwood said.
“It’s amazing how many homes are being built around here,” Sullivan said. “A lot of opportunities are available.”
Junior Austin Snyder learned construction skills that will help prepare him for the workforce and help him academically, he said.
“At state competition, we received a set of blueprints and had a group of four students work together to build a house in two days,” he said. “A lot of math is involved.”
Isaac Lujan, already recognized for his cabinet making skills, said the program is preparing him for his future. “I want to open a business making custom cabinets,” he said.
Senior Paige Luman, who is taking interior design classes, said the CTE program has “taught me how to design and space things throughout a house.”
Students used design boards to help a local woman whose house had burned to devise a new look for the interior of her home.
“FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) has brought me into focus on working with others, designing floor plans on a computer and working with a design board,” Luman said.
“It will help me in college. I hope to work for a design firm. It has taught me a lot, and Ms. B (Beechem) is the best teacher ever.”
“The partnership between students, teachers and community partners is significant and really extraordinary,” school board President Randy Pittenger said. “These students will be able to graduate and go to work. They’ll have the skills and ability to do so.”