Hinds Community College Utica Campus carpentry students spent part of their summer getting hands-on experience.

Edmond Christian, Leslie Hill and Morris Evans, all carpentry students from Port Gibson, joined their instructor, James McGee, on a construction project at Raymond High School. For more than three months, they helped with construction on the new Performing Arts and Athletics Center.

From left, Leslie Hill, Edmond Christian, Carpentry Instructor James McGee, Morris Evans and Associate Dean of CTE Jonathan Townes (Hinds Community College/Vergie Morgan)

The partnership began when McGee reached out to his brother-in-law, Al Hunter, of First Construction.

“I have over 20 plus years of doing commercial foundation work and, through the job that I have in Utica, thought it would be a great opportunity to involve my students in a project like this,” Hunter said. “I called my brother-in-law and asked him if I could bring my students along. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day.”

Each of the young men were taught a variety of skills, from learning how to set anchor boats and tie steel to mechanical and electrical work. Hunter said he felt it was important to give them the chance to learn the total side of the construction business.

“Sustainability comes in not just one craft,” he said. “Sustainability is when you learn the total construction concept and you will be able to do everything,” said Hunter.

All three sophomores were excited to hop on board the project and hope to gain as much experience as possible to help them further their careers.

Evans said he was looking for a hands-on experience before actually working.

“I feel like if I came out here before I got a job I would know more when I actually started working,” he said.

Christian saw this opportunity to live out a lifelong dream.

“I wanted to be a carpenter growing up so I wanted to get the experience,” he said.

Hill is hoping this will lead to greater and even more lucrative opportunities.

“I plan on making more money in this field,” he said.

Jonathan Townes, associate dean for Career and Technical Education at the Utica Campus, hopes this will showcase the type of talent that comes out of the Hinds family.

“This could be a spark for others to not only desire to continue their education, but to also chose Hinds because they know the faculty will help put them in the position to grow outside and inside of the classroom to grow,” Townes said.

Hunter said he plans to ask all three to come back to help complete the project.

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