BERKELEY, Mo. — Class is in session, but this isn’t your traditional summer school. A group of hard-hat-wearing high schoolers is learning hands-on about the trades.

“It’s an area that a lot of students in the past wouldn’t normally consider, and now we’re seeing a huge uptick in young people considering pathways in construction,” said the Special School District’s Saud Kevin Andert. He is the Executive Director of Career Technical Education, College, and Career Readiness.

“They leave energized and excited. Our mission is to prepare and inspire young people and this is a really great way to do that,” added Andert.

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North Tech High School offers the Building Trades Academy to rising 8th, 9th, and 10th grade students. With partnerships from trade unions, the Construction Career Development Initiative and Clayco, the camp exposes the students to careers and maybe a calling they hadn’t considered.

“To be able to show young people all the things you could possibly do in this industry makes us uniquely positioned to partner with this organization, CCDI and really carry it to the next level with all our relationships,” said Sandra Marks, Senior Vice President at Clayco.

“I never in a million years would’ve thought I would be doing this,” said Indya Russell.

Russell will be a freshman at Hazelwood Central High School, but in five years, you might see her working on a job site like this.

“I want to either be a carpenter or I want to do sheet metal,” added Russell.

“It was more about doing hands-on stuff. I like building things, and that’s what makes it fun. It took time to build,” said Russell.

And after this experience, maybe we are a step closer to building a career in construction.

“Really find a young person, bring them under your wing, which is exactly what this mentorship is all about and make sure that whatever you’ve done right, whatever lessons you’ve learned, leave that legacy,” said Marks.

This definitely isn’t your traditional summer school.