D.C. Everest grad helps build new high school building

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- A student who attended D.C. Everest High School is now helping build it. It's part of a program that's helping graduates get a head start on a construction career.

The high school is building a new tech education building. And one person working there knows the job site pretty well. "I wish I could have torn down some of these walls while I was here, but now I get paid to do it," former student Cole Abt said.

He graduated in 2018 and is now a registered apprentice for Findorff Construction. D.C. Everest is one of 60 schools in Wisconsin where students can start getting hands-on experience working in trades while still in school. It's part of the Regional Council of Carpenters career connections program.

“One thing that schools struggle to help students with is to gain that employ-ability skill piece. Where else can you learn that but on the job site?” said Aaron Hoffman, the Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for the D.C. Everest School District.

Cole was one of about 20 students in his graduating apprenticeship class. The goal is to get students involved in construction at a young age and start their careers early.

“I would like to see people get in at a younger age, cause all that does is benefit them for their retirement benefits. But also that benefits them so that their career grows as they grow with it," said Luke Kramer, a business representative for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters.

"It's a great opportunity for kids that are unsure of the direction they want to go," said Findorff Construction project manager Nathan Hiles.
"And if they're interested in construction, it's great to have them working alongside with journeymen and experienced contractors," he said.

For some people, it can be a solid alternative to a four-year college. "Cole is going to come out with four years of experience and no debt," said Kramer.

Cole's ultimate goal is to become a superintendent or foreman.