BCCHS academy lays a foundation for students to construct a future

Bishop Carroll Catholic High School students work on a tiny house currently located next to the school. They are enrolled in BCCHS’s St. Joseph Construction Science and Trade Academy.
(Courtesy photo)

Bishop Carroll Catholic High School’s St. Joseph Construction Science and Trade Academy was named the Kansas High School Program of the Year for 2023 by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

As a result DeWalt awarded the school with a large number of tools.

Course instructor Brad Carey said many in the community don’t know about the academy and that training in trades as an alternative to college is growing.

“The program started eight years ago under the direction of Al Rohleder to give our students here at Bishop Carroll that opportunity or an avenue to explore, either as a trade or a degree in construction science,” he said.

Some continue for four-year degree

The program has been extremely successful, Carey said, with students moving on to a four-year degree program at Kansas State, Pittsburg State, or Fort Hays State universities for degrees in construction science. Academy students can also forgo college and enter the trades, such as plumbing, electrical, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning immediately.

Students must apply to enter the academy with recommendations from two teachers, he said.
“Rather than have a young man or young lady that’s moved into the class because the counseling office thought it was a good idea, they all want to be here. It’s that motivation that really drives these students more than a lot of other high school programs.”

Many students have changed their career paths as a result of the academy, he said.

Students change plans

“A lot of our students come into this class with a predetermined idea – whether it be in business or another college degree. They are changing their plans and going into construction science or something involving construction based on the exposure to this class. We’re moving more men and women into the trades – more than we thought ever possible – thanks to the exposure they get in this class.”

The trades class has 12 juniors and six seniors, he said, which is about the average number in a year.
Because of the unique requirements of the academy, Carey said, he wouldn’t be able to teach without the support of the local business community.

“These companies make it possible to be able to build a 10- by 32-foot tiny house,” he said. “All of the materials were donated.”

The academy is located in BCCHS’s small gym where donors are listed on a board.

Carey said he appreciates the teachers who check the board so that they can patronize those who are assisting the high school.