The Fort Wayne Community Schools Career Academy and City Utilities have celebrated 10 years of helping students with a unique trade program, WANE-TV reports.
Mayor Tom Henry, staff members from City Utilities, FWCS board members, and program alumni gathered at Citizen’s Square in honor of the ‘Concrete Crew’ program’s anniversary on May 30.
The program started in 2009 when Henry and the director of City Utilities were looking for ways to develop young people to meet hiring needs in the community. Through a partnership with FWCS Career Academy, they hired a group of high school students from the construction trades program, the broadcaster reported.
Participating students get hands-on experience by restoring sidewalks and curbs that are demolished when utility crews dig to fix broken water mains and valves. High schoolers from Carroll, Homestead, North Side, Northrop, Snider, South Side, and Wayne attend the program at the Career Academy.
Together the students make up a crew and work for a real job and get paid.
“It’s done the world for me,” program alumnus Matthew Wenger said in the broadcast. “I got to meet all the school employees, all the school staff, any construction is word of mouth so it’s made everything for me so much easier, being out there and starting young and staying in it.”
The mayor and other officials spoke at the celebration. There was also cake and gifts for the alumni.
Over the 10-year period, Concrete Crew students have completed over 1,800 repairs. Through the partnership, City Utilities has even hired some students after graduation. Others have also started their own companies.