PITTSBURG — Frontenac Middle School eighth graders learned about the trades of masonry, carpentry, welding, cosmetology and more on Tuesday at the Southeast Kansas Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County.
The center began tours on Monday, as various schools from Crawford County came to learn about the trade school. Many of the students have an opportunity to study at CTEC while in high school.
Frontenac Junior High School Counselor Brandy Stanley said CTEC can open up doors beyond a career, including life skills.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about career opportunities early in their school experience,” she said. “Even if they are not considering technology or construction careers, they still learn life skills as a homeowner or legal car driver.”
According to CTEC Executive Director Kris Mengarelli, jobs from trades such as masonry and welding are wide open and employees are needed in these areas.  
“The job market is wide open in trades,” Mengarelli said. “It is a good opportunity and they might find their passion.”
Before the tour, Mengarelli had a small presentation about the school and what employers are looking for. He said employers are looking for people who are on time, have good attendance, work hard, are respectful and are able to pass drug test and have a clean driving record.
He also encouraged the students to not waste their freshman year of high school. Instead of retaking courses in their junior and senior year in high school, they could spend time out at the CTEC and get ahead before even graduating high school, he said.

One CTEC student, Pittsburg High School Senior Coltin Oehme, is on his second year of masonry classes at CTEC and will be leaving the center with a certification in the trade by graduation. 

“It gets me out there and working,” he said. “I get to learn about the trade — it’s pretty cool.”
During the tour, Oehme helped the middle schoolers with laying bricks.
Frontenac Middle School Student Trent Hemby said he may consider learning masonry in high school.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “It would definitely be on my list.”
Frontenac Middle School Student Grady Garner agreed.
“I would do it,” he said.  
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.