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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Fifteen high school students graduate with construction work-study program

Fifteen high school students will graduate and receive their diplomas after successfully completing a program that offers on-the-job training in construction.

The Citrus County Phoenix Rising program enables students to work toward earning a high school diploma while being paid for construction training.

The graduation for these students takes place at Withlacoochee Technical College (1201 W. Main St., Inverness) starting at 10:30 a.m.

Citrus County’s Phoenix Rising is based on a successful program launched in Marion County in 2011. That program expanded to Crystal River in 2015 and Inverness in 2016, and has been revamped to build on the area’s booming interest in the construction industry.

Job growth in the industry is projected to increase 12.78 percent statewide through 2026, according to the Florida Research and Economic Information Database Application (FREIDA).

Through Phoenix Rising, young adults age 18 to 24 enroll in Withlacoochee Technical College’s construction program and receive work experience training with Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County, with wages paid by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion.

CareerSource CLM also hires construction supervisors and provides career coaches through its youth services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development, to help manage the project and assist students in the classroom to develop work readiness and soft skills.

Kimberly Grey, Eckerd program manager, says that 10 homes were built to various stages in the East Beecher Court/South Apopka Avenue area near Withlacoochee Technical College in Inverness. Additionally, Grey said that eight members of the class have earned their high school diplomas with more in the pipeline.

In partnership with the Withlacoochee Technical College, graduates have earned a total of 112 industry credentials, including American Hotel and Lodging Education Institute Hospitality certificates, Forklift certifications, OSHA 10 Hour certificates, National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Certificates in Carpentry and Food Handling, National Retail Federation Customer service, and CPR.

This year’s graduates are John Adams, Luke Adams, Melissa Antley, Sunni Barber, James Bentely, Justin Darlington, Erin Foreman, Matthew Kiker, Lukas Knight, Nathaniel Luttrell, Nathaniel Perry, Rachael Staff, Evan Westcamp, Daniel Wielontek and Justin Woodworth.

Adams will be a featured speaker along with Al Jones, area manager for AutoZone and a CareerSource CLM board member.