SALEM TOWNSHIP — Mt. Abram High School will host a Trades Night Career Fair next week, featuring some of Maine’s largest skilled trades employers and trades education schools, Regoinal School Unit 58 career adviser Steve Mitman said.

It will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, April 11. Employers and educators will meet students, parents and community members and answer questions about employment and training, he said.

“Many trades careers require specific training,” Mitman said. “A plumber, welder, electrician or heavy equipment operator requires specialized training, and there are jobs out there that are in demand and pay well.”

The fair will be an opportunity to explore some of the newer trades careers, as well as familiar ones.

“Some presenters are looking to hire new employees, while others will help train employees to learn a new trade,” Mitman said.

To expand the the range of curriculum offerings in skilled trades, the school board also pledged its support for a new half-time instructor from the Foster Career and Technical Education Center at the Mt. Blue High School campus in Farmington.

If voters in RSU 58 approve the request, the instructor and training equipment will greet students at Mt. Abram High School in September. Freshmen and sophomores could participate in the pilot program.

Currently, only juniors and seniors attend Foster Tech classes, but freshmen and sophomores need an opportunity to find what interests and challenges them, also, Mitman said.

If all of Foster’s 18 curriculum choices are offered to freshmen and sophomore students as career exploration options, Mitman said 62 students, or half of Mt. Abram’s upperclassman, will be enrolled.

The school board agreed recently to add $29,197 for the half-time position for the first year. The Maine Department of Education requires all new technical programs to be funded locally for the first two years.

Besides the RSU 58 board and superintendent, supporters include the Maine Department of Education and Foster Center Director Glenn Kapiloff. Mitman said he has secured initial approval from RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward and the RSU 9 board in Farmington.

“I am on board with the satellite program,” RSU 58 Superintendent Susan Pratt said. “The opportunity to give hands-on experiences to students as early as possible in their high school career is very important.”

Graduation standards can be reached through any number of experiences, she suggested, so any time the district can provide another educational opportunity, they should take advantage of it.

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