The Vernon Parish School Board, CapturePoint Solutions, LLC and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters are partnering to offer a unique career and technical education pathway for high school students. The Capturing Better Futures Initiative, a career and technical education (CTE) program, is designed to provide training in specialized trade skills associated with pipeline construction & maintenance, plumbing, pipe-laying and steam for Vernon Parish high school students.
“This is an opportunity for our students to have growth and prosperity, and it will help our schools, our families and our future,” said Lisa Lohman, Vernon Parish School Board curriculum and CTE director.
The project was launched in June of 2023, and 30 students, made up of 15 juniors and 15 seniors from the nine Vernon Parish high schools, will kick off the new school year on Monday (August 21) as the first students to enroll in the program.
“We’re excited,” said Lohman. “This is the first time we’ll be able to partner with an industry and have our students gain valuable life skills that are going to make them a contributing factor back to the community that provided them the education and training to begin with.”
The 2023-2024 funding is expected to exceed $310,000, with local affiliates of the United Association and CapturePoint Solutions, LLC providing first-year funding and in-kind contributions. Vernon Parish Schools provided classroom and workshop facilities in the STEAM building at Leesville High School, with the United Association and local affiliates building out the workspace.
Additional funding from CapturePoint Solutions updated the classroom and provided all necessary supplies and equipment. The United Association and local affiliates are providing classroom instructors and curriculum, while the Vernon Parish School District provides additional instructional support.
Blueprint for Success
With this program, Lohman said VPSB will be considered a blueprint for success for other school districts to follow.
“We have been able to put this program together in a very short amount of time, partner with some great industries and then make this a successful program for our students,” Lohman said.
Vernon Parish School Superintendent James Williams said the district has been working hard over the summer to bring this initiative to life.
“You know, it’s not easy, it’s expensive,” said Williams. “Usually, there are industries within the school districts that support our needs for career and technical training, but in Vernon Parish, we don’t have much industry here.”
The opportunity came up when CapturePoint Solutions teamed up with the local plumbers and pipe-fitters union in Alexandria. After showing their plans of how to support the initiative physically and financially, VPSB gave the green light.
“I looked around and said ‘Look, if you can do this, and you can do that and you can pay for it as well, then it’s a no-brainer,” Williams said. “It helps our kids, and we’ll be all in for that.”
The Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance
The Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance is also exploring using the program’s workspace and instruction to provide a transitional pathway to civilian employment for military members completing their tours of duty at Fort Johnson. Students who successfully complete the program will have the opportunity to enter the union’s Registered Apprenticeship Program, which includes free education, health insurance, retirement and other benefits.
For the students, it’s an opportunity to see their future.
“Once I’m out of high school and all that, I can start up my own business with my knowledge up there,” said Nicholas Clark, a student taking the CTE class. “I can start up my own welding business, have people work for me, make a good career out of it.”
“I’ve always wanted to be a welder since my dad was one too, and I’m learning some things from my dad as well,” said Odyssey Poole, another student taking the CTE class.
VPSB hopes to expand the program’s number of students in the future.
SOURCE: Capturing Better Futures Initiative