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Students take on Heavy Metal

At the end of the month, 32 senior students will spend four days "in the pit.
Jesse Griffin a Grade 11 student from Valemont learns how to use a back hoe during last year's Heavy Metal Rocks.

At the end of the month, 32 senior students will spend four days "in the pit."

Dubbed Heavy Metal Rocks, the end-of-April workshop aims to give them exposure to jobs in more than 30 construction-related trades

"Operating the heavy equipment and introducing them to it we've found makes it quite exciting for them," said Rosalind Thorn, president of the Prince George Construction Association, which has organized the event for 11 years.

Offered to those in Grade 11 and 12, more than 350 students have gone through the program since it started in 2005

"This event is designed to promote career awareness, work experience, opportunities and foster that spark of interest in the construction industry that can point our youth in a career path that's totally exciting," said Thorn in her presentation to the school board at Tuesday's meeting.

Students apply and go through a rigorous interview process. Typically between 35 and 55 students apply each year, said Doug Borden, program coordinator of the college's Career and Technical Centre.

"Both business and students cherish this event," said Borden, adding the event focus was on five key areas: growth, confidence, jobs, training and mentoring.

The mentors range in age from 25 to 75, representing past participants and even out-of-town equipment operators who come back because they love the program.

"What a great program," trustee Bruce Wiebe said. "What a great opportunity for young people and the idea that you've got both very experienced operators and students who have come back and are now training."

Trustee Sharel Warrington commented on the nice gender mix of participants, recalling the year before when one student came in her graduation dress to accept the course certificate.

"It was quite impressive," Warrington said.

"She lifted the bottom of her dress and she had her work boots on," added Thorn with a laugh. "I thought it was a fabulous photo."

The workshop, which runs from April 29 to May 2, is a partnership between the association, the district, WorkSafeBC and the College of New Caledonia.

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