WHITE CITY, Ore. -- Monday was the first day of Rogue Community College's new Career & Technical Education (CTE) Academy for high school students.
"Putting things together, crafting stuff — that's interesting to me," said Roman Valejo, one of the students in the Academy.
The program trains students in skills they can't learn in a normal classroom.
"It's pretty fun to do . . . I mean, it's interesting, it's an art really," said Garrett Fredrickson, another student in the program.
Both Valejo and Fredrickson go to high school in Phoenix. They will spend about half their days in school and the other half here in White City at RCC.
"Doing this program, I feel like it's going to push me into doing what I really want to do," Valejo said.
The academy started because of a need.
"It's not a mystery that there is a huge skills gap right now in the United States," said Todd Giesbercht, the Department Chair for Welding at the academy. "They will take part in three industry classes, and at the end of each class they will test out and get a certification."
Giesbercht said that the program gives these students a "two-year jump," and they are more likely to continue post secondary training as well.
There are three different trades the students will learn: welding, mechatronics and manufacturing. Both Valejo and Fredrickson are interested in the same thing — welding.
"I'm counting the minutes down after lunch just sitting there waiting, waiting until I get to come here two hours a day for five days," said Fredrickson.
The RCC Foundation is funding both of these students, so they are able to attend the academy without breaking the bank.
"Pushing for our careers of what we want to do. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be doing what we are doing," said Valejo.
After graduating high school, Fredrickson plans to continue college at RCC. Valejo will continue at college too, but he has not yet decided which trade he will focus on.