Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Students Explore the Trades in Paid Work-based Learning

Students Explore the Trades in Paid Work-based Learning

Highline Students Build Their Futures

More than a dozen students were busy getting ready for their futures outside Highline High School this summer.

Seven students in hard hats pose around table they are building.

The buzzing of their miter and table saws, sanders and drills was the first clue. Other clues were the bright yellow vests and green hard hats they wore with pride.

An introduction into the construction trades, the ANEW Youth Exploration Program provided the two-week, paid summer training hosted in the school courtyard. Some students took advantage of a third week at the ANEW training center in Tukwila.

ANEW Director of Programs Dee Jackson said, “A four-year college may not be for everyone. We help students explore careers in the trades through hands-on experience. We teach construction skills and other soft skills, like workplace communication, team building and personal finance.” 

What part of the construction career exploration program has the most impact for students? Jackson said, “This program gives students a new level of confidence and job skills.”

Student using drill.

Jan Carlos Villa Mesita, nicknamed “JC” at the work site, said he was selected to be the crew lead for the second week of this unique construction boot camp.

Crew members were paid $400 per 40-hour week, and the lead crew member earned $700 per week. If a crew member did not show up to work, they were docked pay.

“You’re learning something new while getting paid,” JC said. “It can translate into a job reference and workplace skills later. If you apply for a job, they can see what my skills are and the tools I know how to use.”

Now in 11th grade at HHS, JC said he is thinking about becoming a carpenter, but was curious to learn more about how to use the tools before he decides.

An instructor and a student learning to use a motorized saw.

“They showed us how to use a tape measure properly and how to measure items. We figured out how to use a speed square, how to make angle cuts for the miter and table saws, and they taught us some other methods that we could use if we cracked the wood on one side—how to repair it.”

“I might do ANEW again, to get my forklift license after I’m 18. I am interested in learning more about what other training programs are available.”

Jackson bragged about the Highline students. “The Highline students made the coolest, complex projects. They had a high interest and participation level.”

Projects included a bench, a table and chairs and a cornhole game.

Two photos showing students in hard hats working on building wood projects.

Jackson said the hands-on training and support programs offered by ANEW provide hope for their future that some students otherwise may not feel.

"It is valuable to learn how to get and keep a job—things you might not learn in the traditional school setting.”

Founded in 1980, the aim of ANEW is to give students the confidence and opportunity to enter additional pre-apprenticeship training programs as a next step. This non-profit organization offers youth programs statewide, including contracts for student services (like the summer program at HHS) through the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Students in hard hats building a wood bench.


Students posing with bench they built.


Four students using construction tools.

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