CENTRAL La. (KALB) - Buckeye senior Peyton Ryder is just days away from graduating from the Jump Start Pathway.
"It encouraged me to become a welder at DIS-TRAN Steel and that is where I'm wanting to go after high school," Ryder said.
Gaining industry valued skills takes time, but the Jump Start Summers Initiative is back this year to help students earn credits and credentials before graduation day.
"We have them approximately one month, that's 100 hours," said Buckeye Welding Instructor Don Sanders. "So, it gives them a big jump start basically into the next school year."
Sanders said summer students not only receive classroom instruction, but engage in workplace based training.
"This past year we partnered with Union Tank Car Company and Hayes Manufacturing," Sanders said. "We went to both of their facilities and they were able to meet up with industry experts in the field and answered questions, did plant tours."
The Louisiana Department of Education started the summer program last year as a pilot and expanded upon it for 2018. Rapides will have four programs, Grant will have six, Avoyelles 4, Natchitoches 5 and Vernon 2. Students looking to apply must be in a Jump Start Pathway.
"We go through their grades, their discipline history, teacher recommendations, things like that," said Montgomery High School Principal Michael Edwards.
But, Edwards said there's also a stipend between $500 to $1,000 that sweetens the deal.
"[Only] if they complete the credits and credentials they are required to take over the course of their Jump Start Summer."
Every parish has welding and Grant is no different. During the pilot program last summer students worked on projects like building a fence and working on the fence around the baseball field.
"I think it's pretty cool," said Montgomery senior Michael Young. "You get more experience and you don't have to worry about any other classes, you just come here to do welding."
Still, several other programs are offered across the state like manufacturing, automotive and more.
"Under Mrs. Versher a customer service credential and through me they were able to get a first aid CPR certification," said Montgomery teacher Erin Melton.
The programs opened Sophomore Savannah Moses' eyes to the job opportunities available.
"I would do it again this summer, because it was a whole bunch of fun," Moses said. "We got to help and learn about job experiences."
Edwards said not every student is college bound.
"That degree on the wall is not necessary to sustain life, but the person who builds your house, the person who builds the skyscraper, the person who works in the pharmacy, the person who works in the bank, those are necessary jobs," Edwards said.
Now Young is excited to graduate and get started with his career.
"I start out $18-22 dollars an hour at DIS-TRAN Steel," Ryder said. "That's a lot of money compared to people going to college for four years and then coming out and having to pay off student loans and everything."
For more information on the Jump Start Summers Initiative visit the attached link.