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Dinuba High's Construction Management Academy Achieves Gold Standard

Linked Learning Gold Pathway CMA Sign

Friday, October 21, 2022

Víctor Alcaráz thought his future would be a major in English and exploring something in that field. That was until he met Ramón Sánchez, the lead instructor in the Construction Management Academy at Dinuba High School. Making the jump from a world of academics to a career where you build objects wasn’t that much of a stretch for Alcaráz. He was taking architecture and design from Sánchez, so a chat sent him into the academy his junior year.

“Honestly, I’m more of a hands-on type of learner, and working with my hands has always been something I’ve been good at,” said Alcaráz, 17. The senior is among about 200 students (about 25 are female) in the construction management academy, whose major project is to build a 1,200-square-foot house.

More than learning how to do construction work, Sánchez said, the focus is on showing students that there are careers in engineering, architecture and more. Sánchez, who once worked in construction, brings industry experts to his classes. Sometimes the students go to their worksites. “They can start seeing that construction is not simply a hammer and nails, or chainsaw, or a Stihl saw,” said Sánchez. “It’s actually some project management, some superintendent, some journeyman. It could be contract management.

“It could be engineering or architecture. So we bring in many other views for the students other than construction.” Dinuba’s academy is one of several in the Valley – school districts in Fresno, Porterville and Visalia host them – but it is the first in the region to gain a gold achievement from the Linked Learning Alliance. Tuesday, Sánchez, Alcaráz joined other students, district officials and community leaders in accepting the award from Anne Stanton, president/CEO of the alliance.

“By linking traditional academic subjects to real-world professions and providing all students with access to early college opportunities,” said Stanton, “young people in Linked Learning programs are introduced to career possibilities they might never imagine on their own. “They see the importance of a college degree as the way to turn their aspirations into a rewarding career.”

Linked Learning has been around for 12 years in California, and is present in about 50 school districts. There are 250,000 students enrolled in the academies, which focus on health professions, business/finance, agriculture, fashion/interior design, or media/entertainment, among others. “It starts with a vision of what the young people need to be totally prepared for all their options after high school, so they are both college and career ready,” said Stanton. The gold standard, she said, is not easy to achieve. That award is tied “to a number of very clear objectives that people have to deliver and accomplish for young people,” said Stanton.

Alcaráz is happy with the academy, even though he joined late. He wants to go into construction management.

His parents are also happy, now that their son has figured out what he will do after high school. “I’m so proud of my son. I do everything I can to make sure he has every opportunity I never had,” said his father, who has had jobs in the fields and retail over the years. Alcaráz and other students learn to become comfortable with hand tools, and learn the safety behind power tools. They build a doghouse, then a 4x8-foot shed. Sánchez said the students earn OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 certification “so if they do want to pursue a career right after high school, they at least have something on the resume.” Stanton hopes that 1 million students are in the pathways, or have finished them, by the next decade. Gov. Gavin Newsom passed the Golden State Pathways Program, which provides $500 million to expand these types of programs.

Source: The Fresno Bee