It's True: Casey County students are wired to work

April 19, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - It's no surprise that vocational school students are wiring new buildings at the new Central Kentucky Ag and Expo Center on the south end of town. They have been well trained.

The 45 students of Mike True not only are getting on-the-job training, but the county is also saving more than $8,000 by allowing the young electricians to earn high school and college credits at the same time.

Casey County High School senior Sonny Patterson, who recently won the regional competition in residential wiring, is among the students wiring a concession stand. This year makes the fifth regional win in the past eight years for the Kentucky Tech Casey County Vocational School.

"After Sonny started working here, he understands what's going on because he sees the overall picture," said True. "He gets to do things here and see how to work, rather than being in the classroom. There is nothing like hands-on experience," said True.


"It's pretty good to be out in the real world," said Patterson, when asked how he liked working on the building. "We really get to see what problems you can run into and the conditions you have to work in. Mr. True keeps us going."

Patterson and many of his classmates plan to get involved in electrical work after they go through an apprenticeship program (working 40-hour weeks for pay and attending classes at night).

True said a person has to get four or five years of on-the -job training before becoming a journeyman. All the training and college tuition is paid by the employer who hires them. He said one of his students has just finished his apprenticeship this year and landed a job making $25 per hour plus benefits and retirement.

National certification

True also said the electrical class at the vocational school received national certification this year that now allows the students to get college credit while still in high school. The certification also cuts a year off the apprenticeship.

"That means a lot for a young man," True said. "There is always plenty of electrical work and the pay is good."

In the meantime, the students get plenty of knowledge under the instruction of True, who also acts as the job foreman.

The students are doing all the work, said True, who is always nearby to answer questions and give orders.

"Everybody get your safety glasses and get your stuff together," True says as one class leaves and another one comes in. When one crew finishes, the workers clean up and get ready for the next class. The works goes on during school hours five days a week, with about 45 young men and women rotating the work schedule.

"The students are doing real good work," said True. "They all work, and work ethics are as important as the wiring."

Many shadow experienced electricians

While most of the students get additional training, many of them shadow experienced electricians while still in high school. Some of the former students helped wire the horse ring at the expo center, others have wired offices and several houses, including a habitat house. Many of them work part-time after school and on weekends.

"We started down here in March and will continue the work until it is ready for inspection," said True. The work is scheduled to go on until school ends in May.

The students also will wire a large metal building donated to the expo center by the Casey County Pork Produces Association.

No one appeared to be griping about working rather than being in class."We're tickled to death that Judge Wright (county Judge-Executive Ronald Wright) asked us to do this," said True. "It's good for the students and it's good for the community." "I love to see the kids get involved," said True. "I'm not doing anything. They are applying what they have learned in the classroom."

True also loves teaching, and his rewards come from what his students learn. He treats his students like employees.

"They clock in each day. If they are tardy, they may have to mop the floor," said True. He wants them to respect each other while in school and take that respect with them to a real workplace.

Central Kentucky News Articles