Students in KC construction academy will have ‘a lot of great opportunities’

Oak Park High School sophomores Jasmine Bailey and Trenton Gallagher in front of a “construction pod” at the launch of the new Kansas City Construction Career Academy (Photos by Tim Engle/MCC)

Jasmine Bailey wants to be a construction manager. Trenton Gallagher might follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become an electrician. Both are also interested in welding.

Jasmine and Trenton, sophomores at Oak Park High School in the Northland, will be part of the first class of students in the Kansas City Construction Career Academy, which launches this fall on the Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology campus. Students will attend classes there from 8 a.m to 1:45 p.m. weekdays.

The two spoke at a signing ceremony and ribbon cutting April 12 that also featured officials of MCC, North Kansas City Schools and JE Dunn Construction, the three organizations behind the new early college construction program. As many as 20 NKCS high school juniors are expected to enroll for this fall.

“This program is going to really help me decide where I’m going to go in life,” Jasmine said.

Upon successfully completing the two-year program, the KCCCA students will have earned two diplomas: one from high school, one from Metropolitan Community College. They will have an associate in applied science degree in construction and building maintenance.

MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty called the construction academy “a wonderful example of a partnership with industry, K-12 and community college.” It’s also an example of equity and access for students, she said, adding that the MCC Board of Trustees recently approved half-price tuition for high school students in partner school districts.

“As I said when I arrived here last summer, we’re making MCC a place where students do more than dream with a question mark,” Dr. Beatty said. “Here, they will achieve their dreams with a period. And sometimes a hammer in this case.”

NKC Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Clemens said he started talking about a construction program with JE Dunn Construction’s Steve Dunn two or three years ago. Now that it’s reality, “I can’t think of a better partnership” than this one, he said. (“Finally I came around, didn’t I?” Dunn later told the audience.)

Clemens said the district wants to make sure students leave high school “college and career ready.”

Officials of Metropolitan Community College, North Kansas City Schools and JE Dunn Construction were among those who took part in the ribbon cutting.

Dunn said he heard several years ago that the average age of a welder was 59.

“Everything we’re reading, we’re seeing labor shortages,” he said, adding that Associated General Contractors is projecting a shortage of 2 million workers in the construction trades.

“So there’s going to be a lot of great opportunities for all these young men and women who go through this program,” Dunn said. If they successfully complete it, “they will have a job.”

NKC Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Clemens (from left), MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty and JE Dunn Chairman Steve Dunn make the construction academy official.

MCC-Business & Technology President Dr. Jacqueline Gill thanked everyone at the campus who has helped make the new program possible.

“We’re always working to put students on a path to good-paying, in-demand jobs,” Gill said. “And we are thrilled to welcome the Kansas City Construction Career Academy to this campus.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Exhibit Hall B at the MCC-Business & Technology campus.


More photos from the event (courtesy of Bill Wien, The Builders’ Association) :

Watch a live stream of the event on Facebook:

Related: MCC to launch early-college construction program with NKC Schools, JE Dunn