Construction at Charlotte Christian hands-on for students

IMG_2120Alec and Blake Thomas are getting hands-on experience that’s helping refine their college career track without ever leaving school grounds, thanks to a partnership with Charlotte Christian School and Rodgers Construction, the contractor hired by the school to build a new arts and science building.

The senior, twin brothers both have plans to pursue jobs in the construction field – it’s been part of their lives since they were kids, as their dad has owned businesses and worked in the construction and concrete industry most of his life.

“Ever since we were little, we were at the job site, playing around and messing with equipment,” Alec said.

“We’ve always had an interest with it,” chimed his brother Blake.

So when the opportunity came along for the Charlotte Christian students to shadow real professionals in the construction industry who were working right on the campus, the brothers jumped at the opportunity. Rodgers broke ground on the new Hendrick Center for Arts and Science last fall. The facility, which is part of the school’s master plan, will replace some of the temporary classroom space and create a more centralized entrance for the school, becoming the focal point for all visitors and guests, Head of School Barry Giller said. The20,000-square-foot space also will provide a dedicated media center and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, lab for the lower school students, as well as space for the school’s orchestra, visual arts classes, music classes, upper school math classes and some administration offices.

The project, which will cost more than $6 million including renovations to the school’s parking lot that was completed last summer, is named after Rick and Linda Hendrick, the major sponsors of the project and the grandparents of three Charlotte Christian students. The building is set to be complete by the end of July.

“When we were interviewing and meeting with various construction companies to partner with this facility, (Rodgers) desired to involve the students with whatever was the appropriate way – we are an educational institution and this was an educational opportunity for our students” to do an on-campus internship, Giller said.

Alec and Blake started the internship at the end of January, spending several afternoons a week alternating between shadowing Rodgers Construction project manager Jeff Bremer and superintendent Page Tucker, allowing both boys to work in the office out in the field.

“The internship is going to be a lot of learning-based,” Alec said. “They’re not going to give us jobs where we have to meet a deadline or something, but they are giving us opportunities to learn.” For example, last week the brothers had the chance to review water-proofing plans for the new building and were able to participate in the meeting and conversation about the plans.

They’ve also reviewed the drawings and architectural plans and even helped clean up the mess made after pouring concrete, Blake laughed, adding they hope to have more opportunities to get their hands dirty in the future.

“We’re just not sit-behind-the-desk-type of people,” Blake said. The boys are still ironing out the details on college plans, but both hope to pursue jobs in the construction field, just maybe different sides of it – Blake in the engineering side of things, and Alec the business and management side of things.

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