DALLAS — The 2020 version of “shop class” is much different than what Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton remembers.
“We did things like weld the shop teacher into the tool room for entertainment, so we had a lot of memorable experiences in shop,” Dalton said at the groundbreaking for the new “career and technical education” (CTE) building at Dallas High School last week.
He said he made shoeshine boxes in wood shop while in high school, and now has a woodworking shop at his home. But those classes didn’t prepare him for a career in the same way modern CTE courses aspire to, Dalton said.
“My wife would say I could make a brilliant shoeshine box if I were so inclined,” he said. “These classes that they have nowadays are far more than just shop classes where we make shoeshine boxes. They train and turn out people that are well-skilled for the high-skilled environments we need for the industry and commerce that are more and more going to come to Dallas.”
The new career and technical education building under construction at DHS will be the first facility added to the school district in decades — and officials believe it will give students a competitive advantage.
Dalton said the city is recruiting industry and has high hopes for Mint Valley Paper’s proposal to build a paper products manufacturing plant in Dallas. The company announced its intentions to build a plant off of Godsey Road near Monmouth Cutoff Road in February if 2019.
“We are hopeful that they will come as well, so this is not just an idle exercise in academia,” Dalton said. “This is building a talent pool that will not only attract industry, it will service industry with a really fine and well-trained and hardworking people.”
The district held a groundbreaking for the center on Sept. 2 with city, district and county officials in attendance to mark the occasion. Construction started the next day. Tim Ray, the district’s career and technical education coordinator, said the facility should be finished in March or April.
“This is my tenth year as principal, and this feels like this has been a long time coming,” said DHS Principal Steve Spencer. “We are so excited that we have members of our FFA, our community, representatives from Polk County to come witness this and celebrate this with us.”
Spencer said the new center will replace a long-outdated shop building.
“I will tell you that over the time that I’ve been here as principal, I’ve watched amazing teachers work really hard with a facility that many might say is substandard and materials and equipment that might even be lower than that, but have done amazing work,” Spencer said. “And it is my privilege to be a part of this project, the starting of this project, that will not only give them up-to-date facilities and equipment, but I believe it will provide our kids with a competitive advantage everywhere they go.”
Dallas School Board member Mike Bollman said the up-to-date facility and equipment will allow the high school to hold classes better preparing students to achieve goals after they graduate.
“It also allows the school district to provide more students with the opportunity to explore and find the right program for them to be successful in,” Bollman said. “And also provides an opportunity for our school district to become a hub of workforce development and training, not only for the city of Dallas, but also for the county and the entire west valley region.”
Dallas City Council member Larry Briggs said building the facility and offering career-relevant classes will help industry in Dallas to grow.
“I want to thank (Mike Bollman) and the leadership of the district for the thoughtfulness of investing in the future of our kids,” Briggs said. “Hopefully, this will bring in industry to Dallas so our graduates can stay here instead of having go out into the world, they can stay in the community and be a part of our family.”
Lyle Mordhorst, a Polk County commissioner, and former manager of the West Salem Les Schwab, said the classes held at the CTE center could help check one important box employers look for when hiring: Experience.
“We are going to give our kids the experience they need to land workable, family sustaining jobs. We are gonna to have a leg up on the other communities,” Mordhorst said. “This is a step forward for Dallas. This is so exciting.”