April 20, 2007 Volume 108 Number 8

Roosevelt High students try handling 40-ton crane

On April 4, students at Roosevelt High School in North Portland found a 40-ton crane on their football field, courtesy of Campbell Crane. Building trades unions are trying to recruit young people and wanted to draw attention to a new after-school trades program.

One hundred students gathered on the bleachers, and Operating Engineers Assistant Business Manager Nelda Wilson pitched building trades apprenticeships — “earn while you learn” — as a worthy career track.

Then it was time for volunteers to try operating the crane. The goal was to lower a ball into one of several blue cans, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked. It took the principal an eternity to get the job done. When Deborah Peterson, the first student, tried to make the basket, the ball swung so wildly on its cable it looked like it might hit a precariously parked SUV. A star athlete and two other students did little better; the prize for fastest basket — a $100 gift certificate — went to the school’s Rose Festival Princess Sascha-Eden Samantha Preston. Maybe after four years of apprenticeship, they’ll do better — and be ready to earn the $29-an-hour wage that comes with that skill.

The after-school trades program began this week and is intended to interest students in union apprenticeship programs and help them get ready to participate as soon as they graduate. Fifteen students signed up for the class, which is being taught by a trainer from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters apprenticeship program. Students will build a work table and other basic furniture at Roosevelt, and will take tours of union apprenticeship programs.

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