CHS construction students take field trip to Batson-Cook work site

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The construction students at Cass High School took a field trip they won’t soon forget. 

On March 1, 120 students in ninth through 12th grades toured the new emergency department addition that Batson-Cook Construction is building at Cartersville Medical Center.

Batson-Cook Senior Superintendent Spencer Houston contacted instructor Jerome Black about bringing his students to the construction site for a tour as well as some hands-on experience.

“Being a resident of Cartersville and being fortunate enough to be working here in Cartersville, I wanted to do something that would impact the local community while growing the interest of our industry to the younger generation,” Houston said. “So I approached our project team and trade partners with the idea a couple of months ago. Everyone agreed this was an excellent way to show our industry to the youth and possibly provide them with a path after high school.”

He then contacted Black and explained his idea.

“Mr. Black was very excited for the kids and immediately said ‘yes’ to the field trip,” he said. “We then worked through the details together for about a month and held a very successful field trip.”

Houston said he wanted to show students who “already had some interest in construction” what some of their options are after graduation.

“With the economy booming, there are many job openings in construction that most people don’t know about,” he said. “If college isn’t in their future, there are trade schools where people can earn money while being trained. If college is in their future, there are several degrees that tie into construction that people don’t think about either. Regardless of the path — college, trade school or on-the-job training — construction offers the ability to earn a comfortable living for themselves and future families. This field trip was designed to give these students just a glimpse of the vast possibilities.”

The superintendent said the perception of a construction worker “is not appealing” to most people.

“However, the fact is that the majority of construction workers are highly educated and very professional,” he said. 

During the tour, students got to participate in several stations, Houston said: 

Carpenter station: “The students cut, routed and installed fire-rated plywood blocking for hospital equipment.”

Plumbing station: “The students cut and attached two pieces of copper using a pro-press machine.”

Welding station: “They were allowed to observe and help with a weld of steel pipe.”

Electrical station: “They were allowed to bend conduit using a ‘sidewinder’ machine.”

Mechanical station: “They were allowed to touch and see a VAV [variable air volume] up close. They also got to reset a fire damper.”

Masonry station: “The students were allowed to place brick in a wall.”

Cass senior Nic Blackston, who has enlisted in the U.S. Army with a military occupational specialty of carpentry/masonry, said he enjoyed the field trip. 

“It was nice to see how things function in a real construction site,” he said. “I learned that you must always be on top of things.”

The 18-year-old also said his favorite part of the tour was “watching the craftspeople in action,” which is exactly why Black wanted them to visit the construction site.

“This trip was abundantly encouraging to the students,” he said. “They can realize this is a legitimate career.” 

Houston said the students “loved the interaction” with the workers.

“They seemed to be very intrigued with the industry, and I hope they stick with construction,” he said.

Black said he was grateful to Houston and Batson-Cook for allowing his students to tour the site.

“Batson-Cook rolled out the red carpet for our students, allowing them to lay brick, cut lumber, bend pipes and watch actual welding operations,” he said. “This was one great trip.”

Houston said having the students on-site was a “great way to invest into our future.”

“My intention is to do this on every major project I do from now on,” he said. “Myself and Batson-Cook challenge every other contractor around town to do the same.”