MARYSVILLE – His first three years in high school, Bryce Peterson of Arlington planned to go to college.
He really didn’t want to. He said he didn’t want to waste time taking classes he wouldn’t need for his career.
But he didn’t know about other options.
A senior, he decided he liked working with his hands, so he wanted to go into the trades industry. Originally, he signed up to go to Sno-Isle. But when he found out about the new Regional Apprenticeship Pathways program at Marysville-Pilchuck High School this year, he changed course.
“There are so many benefits,” he said.
Along with a high school diploma, participants also get college credentials and preferred status in a trades apprenticeship program.
Four months into the program, Peterson said what he has learned most is the importance of safety and working with others. He’s also excited about “helping others” because the students are going to build a small house for someone in need in Seattle.
Peterson spoke at a ribbon cutting for the program Tuesday. Students showed work they’ve already done this year: starting with a tool box and step, continuing to bird houses and flower boxes, and then showing off an outdoor leisure chair, along with a picnic table that can divide into two benches.
The students also helped fix up the old shop building so it could be used for the RAP program. They also fixed up an old greenhouse nearby as the district is bringing back its agricultural program.
“I wish they had this when I was in school,” RAP teacher Brian Gahan said of the program.
Gahan, who worked in construction his whole life, is teaching for the first time. When he heard about RAP he wanted to be a part of it.
He said he knows firsthand how young people have a hard time deciding what they want to do in life.
“I did different jobs – this and that. Then I decided it’s time to get serious,” he said.
Gahan said previously his students may have had that same mindset. But now, “They’re ready to go,” he said. “Right after school.”
When workers come to class and “talk about the trades they get excited.”
James Davis of Marysville is one of those students. He wants to be either a carpenter or an electrician.
“It’s a better alternative for me than college,” Davis said. “I get to go into a field I enjoy and make a solid living.”
An added benefit is class members obtain tools for the program. He said of course that’s good for work, but also for at home. “I can work on the house for myself and people I care about,” he said.
Wyatt Brickey, also of Arlington, said he’s already getting offers from trade labor unions. But he wants to be an elevator technician. “I’m an adrenaline junkie,” he said. “I like high places.”