LEF donations fund career preparedness for local high school students.
Lakeshore Public Schools has been working for several years to advance opportunities in Career Technical Education (CTE) by expanding and improving programs while increasing accessibility to students across a diverse spectrum.
The Lakeshore Excellence Foundation helped forward that focus through a major project grant that helped Lakeshore High School establish a HVAC program. Mike Schmidt, CTE director at Lakeshore High School, explained that this year, with the help of LEF funding, they were able to add an electrical section as well. Both HVAC and electric share a common class space to learn, which also allows for the use of similar equipment needed for each specialty. LEF funds helped to purchase air conditioners and furnaces that are used to certify HVAC students through the NC3 program. Students learn how to properly charge a system, troubleshoot heat pump issues, learn about air flow (testing and adjusting for max efficiency out of the system or equipment), and test variable speed motors.
In addition to purchasing the new HVAC equipment, funds were also used to set up six electrical panels where students can learn to wire a basic panel, lights, receptacles, and switches (3-way and single poles.) More equipment is also on the way that will allow students to work with simple circuits and three phase motors. The students in the electrical class follow the NEC (National Electrical Code) to make sure everything is safely wired. Once the task is complete, the students get to test the system and have the opportunity to troubleshoot the circuits. All students in the electrical section will be certified through NC3 on how to use a multimeter. The NC3 certification gives students the most up to date knowledge and competencies that are valued and required by most employers.
This year’s program consists of approximately 16 students, up from 10 last year. Students from other area schools are involved in the program as well, including: St. Joseph, Coloma, Buchanan, Bridgman, and Berrien Springs. Lakeshore’s HVAC instructor, Brian Murphy, and Electrical instructor, Jeff Chorny, collaborate with multiple local businesses, many of which are willing to offer their expertise with the students. Dave Boelcke, original owner of Boelcke Heating and Air Conditioning, has shared his time and knowledge with the HVAC students as well as electricians from Lincoln Tech, Beaudoin Electric, and IBEW local 153 out of South Bend.
“I’m grateful that Lakeshore offered CTE classes while I was there. Both the electrical and CAD courses piqued my interest, and opened a door for me to pursue an apprenticeship with Eagle Technologies,” says Connor White, ’23 graduate of Lakeshore High School.
Eagle Technologies accepted only 10 applicants for their apprenticeship this year, and out of over 100 who applied, Connor was one of the 10 chosen.
“We wouldn’t be able to have these programs without the LEF’s support,” says Schmidt. “These certifications can be used to increase opportunities for employment, which is wonderful for our students.”