#1StudentNWI: Building careers in the Construction program at Hammond Area Career Center

#1StudentNWI: Building careers in the Construction program at Hammond Area Career Center

What's recently happened?

The Hammond Area Career Center (ACC) Construction program has been working diligently on a multitude of projects. For Hispanic Heritage Month, the Construction program built a display of an Aztec Temple. The class as a whole put in a lot of effort to make the temple accurate and the details precise. In addition to working on this project, the class is working on a project to honor veterans in the area. 

This class allows time for individual as well as group projects. The Construction class offers certification for OSHA as well as NCCER certification. Students in this class earn six high school credits and have the opportunity to attend this program as both a junior and a senior. The Construction class offers skills such as blueprint reading, framing, roofing, painting, and even cabinetry. Students are able to intern with different companies in the area halfway through their second year in the program. Students in this program are able to compete in SkillsUSA and are starting to prepare for the regional competition coming up in February. For SkillsUSA students can compete in the cabinet-making competition or go for general competitions such as job interview skills. 

What's coming up?

As the school year approaches the holidays, the Hammond ACC has been getting right into the holiday spirit. The school just ended its month-long canned food drive and will be starting a new donation drive in just a few weeks. The students enjoy helping out in the community and look forward to all the different ways they can contribute. The different career programs have been working towards different ways to give back. At the ACC, students do community service for any program they are part of and find uncommon ways to help such as toy and blanket donations. 

As the second semester approaches, many students are starting to look into different job shadowing and internship opportunities. Students have been taking field trips all across the Region to look at the different options they have and encourage companies to pick up more student interns.

At the beginning of January, many ACC students will be spending Monday through Thursday off campus on different job sites through the Region. Students will report to the ACC on Friday each week and discuss the different skills they utilized in hands-on situations. This allows students to talk about the use of skills and how they differ in class versus in their respective field.

Staff spotlight:

The construction instructor, Scott Ciupak, has been teaching at the ACC for 17 years. Ciupak started his first two years as a paraprofessional and has been fully teaching this course for the past 15 years. 

“I love sharing my craft. I love construction and being a construction teacher,” Ciupak said, “I think we have a very unique opportunity where we are located and have an extremely diverse group of people. That’s what I really like, working with people all over Lake County.”

In this class, there is a diverse set of skills being learned and practiced daily. Ciupak teaches students everything from safety to fundamentals and professionalism. In this career and technical education (CTE) program, no stone goes unturned. Ciupak helps his students find job shadowing opportunities and encourages them to do work on a bigger, more professional level. 

“Somebody has got to build it; if you think something is too challenging or too difficult, someone had to have built it first,” Ciupak said, “You are just as capable as anyone else. You may not know exactly how to do things, but you can research, learn from your mistakes, and accomplish anything.”

Student spotlight:

Natalie Cruz is a senior at Highland High School and currently in her second year in the construction program. Cruz is involved in many activities at both the ACC and Highland. Cruz is a National Technical Honor Society member, orchestra enthusiast, and actively participates in her classes, fundraisers, and activities at school. Cruz joined the construction program to expand her knowledge and with hopes of encouraging girls to get more involved in the trades. 

“I decided to join construction to expand my skills. I have tried a lot of different things and thought, ‘Why not construction?’” Cruz said, “I enjoy hands-on work and wanted to learn something new.”

Cruz’s favorite part about the class is the variety that the class offers. There are multiple projects the students will work on, and Cruz likes the constant rotation of work. One project that Cruz is looking forward to the most is the individual work benches the students make and get to take home with them at the end of the year.

After this class, Cruz wants to go to school to be an electrician.