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Rapid City High School's construction program receives donation

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The Construction Industry Center is investing in Rapid City’s future.

The nonprofit organization donated $7,150 to Rapid City High School’s Geometry in Construction program Friday afternoon.

“As an industry, we recognize the great work and how important it is that the kids that come to this class don’t get overlooked,” said Robert Danielson, board president for the Construction Industry Center. “Rapid City High is the place where children that would normally get overlooked find a place to not be overlooked, where they get the things they need to hopefully advance to have better lives, better careers.”

Danielson said the group raised the proceeds during its annual members golf tournament. The money will be used to buy tools, materials and everything else to give the students what they need to learn about construction.

He said Geometry in Construction teacher Jeff Nelson is a huge positive influence on the students.

“Every chance we get to support him and to work with him, we take that,” Danielson said. “We’re really excited to be able to do so.”

Danielson said over generations, schools and parents have told their kids that the construction industry is a hard life and their kids should go to college and get a degree.

“Yes, it’s great for many children to go to college and many, many young adults go to college and find that career, if that’s the path that they are on,” he said. “Many people who get their degrees never really utilize them when they do move into their next career, so as a result what we’re doing is we’ve kind of drained the reservoir of employees that could come into our business, into the construction industry, by directing them away.”

He said now the industry finds itself struggling to find employees that could come into the career field because students haven’t been given the opportunity to see what exists for them.

Danielson said that’s why it’s important to give high school and even junior high school students the opportunity through programs like Geometry in Construction.

“Not everybody is cut out to go to class every day and to go to college, not everybody really wants that, but they feel forced oftentimes,” he said.

Nelson said the support the program has received from the organization has helped since the program’s inception in 2015.

“(It) has been over the top, they have provided the resources for us to buy materials and tools for the students so they can have a meaningful building experience in the classroom and meet industry professionals,” he said. “I’ve known many of these people for a long time and they’ve been a very important part of the growth in the success of this program, in addition to our principals and the students who keep showing up.”

Nelson said he would like to see the program grow to Central and Stevens high schools. He said the class is best done with 15 students — this semester’s class has 12 enrolled students.

He said prior to the pandemic, the students were working on the historic McGillycuddy House. This year, the course chose to build a playhouse for the daycare program housed in the same building as the Geometry in Construction program.

Nelson said they have not yet designed it, but it will be a collaborative project for the class. He said they have bigger goals, like tiny homes for veterans, but they’re not there yet.

Danielson said this program is important and doesn’t want to see it left behind. He said he would like to see the district’s continued support for the program.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at siandhara.bonnet@rapidcityjournal.com

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