Construction Credit: Photo by Ron Lach :

District and city officials welcomed representatives of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (EASRCC) to John F. Kennedy High School to announce a new partnership that will prepare students for careers in construction.

“The announcement we’re making today is not just about building buildings or houses. It’s about building futures,” said Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer. “We know there is a demand for carpenters. Perhaps more importantly, we know that the people who work in the construction trades have high rates of job satisfaction. The students who are here with us today are on the precipice of starting tremendous lives, and with the help of the carpenters union, they will have an even better chance of achieving those lives.”

The partnership involves Kennedy High School using the “Career Connections” curriculum for the students in the construction trades pathway. The curriculum was created by instructors from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters International Training Program and approved by the Paterson Board of Education. It is designed to introduce high school students to the crafts and trades of carpentry. The curriculum, combined with EASRCC’s assistance, will expose students to everything they would need while deciding the next step in their education.

Students who want to continue their education in the trades will be provided the opportunity to learn at one of three New Jersey Carpenters Training Centers where they will join a four-year apprenticeship at no cost to them and the ability to earn money while learning their craft.

“Your advocacy to bring the Carpenters’ Union ‘Career Connections’ curriculum to Kennedy High School shows that you all care about the good-paying career paths union trades bring to everyday families,” said Tom Wyzga, an EASRCC council representative. “I can directly point to my apprenticeship through the union for my personal success and the well-being of my family. That is why we, as a union, do not only advocate for apprenticeships, fair wages, and benefits for construction workers but why we also created this nationally recognized curriculum. It truly is an equal path to college for any student who is looking for a good-paying career.”

Representatives of the Paterson Education Association (PEA) also participated in the announcement. The PEA has made a generous donation of new work boots to Kennedy High School students preparing for the construction trades.

“This is exactly how partnerships should operate,” said PEA President John McEntee. “As I look at our students wearing the work boots that were donated by the PEA, I see students who are going to go out into the workplace. They’re going to further their education. And they’re going to make a great, great difference hopefully in the city of Paterson for a long time to come.”

Mayor Andre Sayegh, whose father is a 78-year-old carpenter, said the future for carpenters is bright in the City of Paterson.

“As long as Paterson is in growth mode, we’re going to need carpenters,” said Sayegh, putting his hands on the shoulders of two students in hard hats and work boots who were standing near the podium. “I’m proud of this most recent partnership. Carpenters matter. Carpenters count. Because you can’t build anything without carpenters.”

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