Construction Days set to offer demos for students

A bald eagle eyes its surroundings from a perch in a neighborhood in Kenai last weekend.

Kenai Peninsula high school students will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and learn about the construction industry on May 1 during the Alaska Construction Career Days.


The event, a collaboration between the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Alaska Department of Transportation, will be at the Soldotna Sports Center and is open to all KPBSD high school students. The event is funded by a grant through the Department of Transportation, making it free for all students.

“(The students) get to find out all the aspects about the construction trades,” said Loretta Spalding, KPBSD career guidance liaison and one of the organizers. “We have several local contractors that attend — it’s a great opportunity for kids to find out what’s happening.”

Students will have a chance participate in a number of different activities.

“They’ll make sawhorses and bird houses, operate different types of heavy equipment, operate different simulators that they can sit in and practice and get exposure to running and operating a backhoe or dozer,” said Norma Lucero, who works for the Department of Transportation and is the event’s coordinator. 

Giving students the chance to learn about the opportunities available to them after high school is important, Spalding said.

“(The goal is to) inform students about the great careers in Alaska’s high-growth industries,” Spalding said. “And encourage them to explore the possibilities, that’s kind of the catch word for this thing.”

Bruce Gabriel, president of Big G Electric in Soldotna, said the event is a good way to find prospects for the trade.

“It’s important to us to cultivate a local, highly trained workforce — that’s our goal,” he said. 

Gabriel said if he spots a prospect, he refers them to an apprenticeship program. From there, Gabriel can hire the apprentice to work in the field.

Gabriel agreed with Spalding that the event is a great way for students to learn about their options after their high school career ends.

“We normally are there to provide information, we’re an informational source about our trade — the benefits of getting into our trade versus going to college possibly,” Gabriel said. “College is a great thing and we obviously need college graduates — but there’s a percentage of young people out there that will never go to college, and they don’t want to. They don’t want that option. We’re just there to show them another option.”

Spalding said about 220 students attended last year’s event, which was the first of its kind on the Kenai Peninsula. This year, she’s hoping for 350 attendees. 

Gabriel said it feels good to be able to provide students with knowledge of his industry.

“It’s nice to feed into our local economy here, and I feel that’s a great way to do that,” he said.

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