Mapleton Early Career Prep graduate also earns basic construction certificate

When Alan A. graduates from Mapleton Early Career Prep (MEC – Prep) on Saturday, May 20, it will be the second time he walks at a commencement ceremony in as many weeks. He is among the first 12 students from the school to earn a basic construction certificate from Front Range Community College (FRCC), through a partnership with the nonprofit trade school BuildStrong Academy. He will collect that certificate at the FRCC Westminster Campus in a ceremony on Wednesday, May 10.

The program is part of Mapleton’s first career and technical education pathways, which are being introduced at all district high schools to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to be successful and workforce ready after high school. Through the BuildStrong Academy, students like Alan are trained in the foundational skills of construction. He and his fellow students learned about framing, plumbing, and concrete as they finished a house sent to Mexico for a family in need.

Alan said the opportunity was good to discover what he really wanted to do after graduation. He is excited to walk at both ceremonies and said it is a relief to graduate after nearly dropping out while struggling in school before he found his path.

“If you even told me during my junior year that I was going to graduate from Front Range a year later, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “But I pushed myself and had good teachers that supported me and pushed me to finish.”

“Alan demonstrated great determination and we are so happy he was able to find his passion in this program,” said Robin Graham, MEC – Prep School Director. “We’re very proud of him.”

He said although he is interested in plumbing and electrician work, he really wants to become a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) technician, due to the job prospects. At job fairs, he learned that only one HVAC technician enters the field for every 10 HVAC technicians that retire.

“People might say construction isn’t the most glamorous job or that it’s physically tough on you, but you need good construction people to get things done,” he said. “They’re more important than people think, and as those workers get older, fewer jobs will get filled.”

In his immediate future, Alan said he will probably try to go right into the workforce but may consider going to school for HVAC repair if he can find a company to hire him and pay for the education.