Portland School Notebook: Jan. 17

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SMCC certifies inaugural class of Construction Institute students 

Southern Maine Community College has awarded Certificates of Readiness to the first students completing SMCC’s Construction Institute, a new program that provides Mainers a flexible pathway to advance their construction careers.

For this fall’s inaugural Construction Institute, 20 Maine residents took classes that provided training in skill sets that are essential to the construction industry. 

Among the students who completed the institute’s five courses was Lazarus Donato of Portland, who plans continue his education and earn a degree in construction at SMCC. He’s been managing group homes for the past decade and wants to work in residential construction.

“I loved it, and I learned a lot of things in these courses,” Donato said. “I feel like this is my entry into construction field.”

Other Portland residents who earned certificates included Ambroise Bibang-Minko, Richard Farnsworth, Evariste Gahurura, Matthew Garland, James Kana, Eric Morse, Jon Nichols, Arnaud Niyonkuru, Joao Nsesikilandamoko, Luis Ramos Dubon, Justin St. Germain and Norman Warren.

SMCC developed the Construction Institute in collaboration with business partners to serve the needs of industry and of students, said SMCC President Ron Cantor. Following a ceremony Jan. 10, students explored job opportunities at a meet-and-greet expo with employers.

“With full employment, an aging workforce and a boom in construction, Maine builders are having a hard time finding enough qualified workers,” Cantor said. “We are helping boost the Maine economy by providing employers with the skilled workers they need to remain competitive.”

Construction industry employment is now at a nine-year high in the U.S., according to the Associated General Contractors of America. The association says most construction firms plan to add workers this year as demand for all types of construction continues to expand.

The Construction Institute addresses the changing needs of students and the construction industry by offering short-term classes, convenient schedules and stackable courses that allow students to continue their education without having to complete an entire degree program. Students can also apply the credits they’ve earned in the institute classes toward a degree or certificate in Construction Technology.

SMCC plans to offer the Construction Institute again in the fall of 2018.

PHS student to intern in senator’s Portland office

Portland High School student Kate Bourque has won a student internship in the Portland office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. 

This is the second consecutive year that Collins’ office has hosted the Expanded Learning Opportunity for a Portland High School student. The internships provide students with school credit, and are a collaboration between Jobs for Maine’s Graduates and Portland High School, aimed at giving local students an opportunity to learn more about the work of a U.S. Senator’s office through observation, assistance, and mentoring.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for Kate,” said Eric Moynihan, JMG Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator at Portland High. “Expanded Learning opportunities like these internships provide students with relevant, real-world experiences. They also are an integral piece of the Portland High School model of education and support the goals in our new comprehensive plan, The Portland Promise.”

Bourque was one of four Portland High juniors who applied for the internship and was chosen after an essay-interview selection process. Her semester-long internship starts this month.

At Portland High School, Bourque is involved in Student Council, Executive Board, Key Club, and varsity tennis. She is an active volunteer at school, church and Preble Street. Bourque was awarded the prestigious Grit Award by her teachers during her freshman year and is enrolled in advanced placement and honors courses. Her plans for college include studying political science.

MAMM collaborates with King Middle School

The Maine Academy of Modern Music’s MAMMOTH program and its partnership with Portland Public Schools continue to grow. MAMM this month began collaborating with King Middle School to lead an after-school rock ensemble program, thanks to a Portland Education Foundation grant and matching funds from MAMM.

“For years we have had students come to King excited about their experiences with MAMM; we’re now excited to have those experiences here at King!” said Peter Hill, teaching strategist from King.

The rock bands formed at King Middle will learn a number of their own songs and will also serve as the rhythm section for some of MAMM’s other MAMMOTH programs, including the after-school MAMMOTH Strings program and the MAMMOTH Rock Chorus programs that MAMM is currently running in partnership with Presumpscot Elementary, Ocean Avenue Elementary, and Casco Bay High School.

The groups’ first performances will be at the MAMMOTH Matinee that MAMM will be holding at Port City Music Hall on Saturday, March 3 prior to its Girls Rock show that evening. The matinee begins at 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Students from SMCC’s new Construction Institute were awarded Certificates of Readiness at a ceremony Jan. 10. Students are shown with SMCC President Ron Cantor, far left; SMCC Construction Technology Chairman Dave Eng, fourth from right; and Dan Belyea, second from right, Maine Community College System’s interim director of Workforce Training.