NECA-IBEW apprenticeship program ‘rescues’ Parkrose High

“My counselors brought me a great problem,” said Roy Reynolds, principal of Parkrose High School in Northeast Portland. “We had more juniors wanting to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test than we could accommodate. I didn’t want to turn anyone away from this chance to qualify for scholarships and practice for their senior-year SAT.”

The preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a program of the College Board. The nationally-standardized test prepares students for the SAT college entrance exam and serves as the point of entry for scholarship competitions conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The test is administered annually at high schools on one of two testing dates in October — either a Wednesday or Saturday. When Parkrose High School moved from weekend testing to the Wednesday administration, the participation rate climbed from 20 to over 100. Last year, counselors tested some juniors on the stage of the theater, but found the solution to be less than optimal for the test takers.

So the principal asked his staff to look for a partner who could seat up to 100 test-takers who needed to sit four feet apart for three and a half hours, per the College Board’s requirements.

“Can you have too many students thinking about their future?” mused Reynolds. “This was a great dilemma, but we needed a great solution.”

Ken Fry, executive director of the National Electrical Contractors Association-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 (NECA-IBEW) Electrical Training Center, located nearby on Northeast Airport Way, provided Parkrose with a solution. The region’s leading trade school for electrical apprenticeship training found space in its 54,000-square-foot-facility for the students.

Delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the Training Center, Fry greeted 105 eager students before their exam on Oct. 12 and told them how apprenticeships combine supervised on-the-job training experience with theoretical and technical instruction in the classroom. Juniors were amazed to learn that apprentices get paid to learn their trade and at the conclusion of an apprenticeship, a graduate will have achieved journey-level status — and journey-level pay.

Principal Reynolds sees the developing partnership with NECA-IBEW as a plus for his students. “If we can get 100 students to take the PSAT, we can get another 100 to investigate apprenticeship programs. I expect the electrical apprenticeship program will help us reach that goal, too.”

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