All Star funding training for St. John high school seniors

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

LAPLACE — High school seniors from East St. John and West St. John who are interested in joining a new safety and electrical training program are interviewing this week with project coordinators from All Star Electric.

School and business leaders hope to select between 20 and 24 students from public schools in St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parishes to participate in the effort, which launches in January.

School and community leaders touted the program at last week’s St. John Parish School Board meeting, where All Star Electric project manager Paul Murray went over program details.

“During this training program, (students) will learn about safety, tools, how to wire light fixtures and how to work with different electrical materials,” Murray said. “It’s for kids who are graduating to learn a trade that might not necessarily want to go to college. This is to get them in the door. When they graduate, they can come straight to work, making some money for themselves.”

The classes will take place over four months from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays at Associated Builders and Contractors in St. Rose.

“This is our first year doing the program, and I’m sure there will be some road bumps along the way, but we plan on doing it every year,” Murray said. “We see the need for it.”

All Star Electric controller Connie Boudreaux said those who finish the training effort will be eligible to apply for employment with All Star Electric or pursue career options elsewhere.

Those who join All Star Electric will also be eligible to begin apprenticeship training in August.

“We’re hoping to get maybe ten people who want to continue after this program to come work for us in June and go through the apprenticeship program,” Boudreaux said. “We want somebody we feel will be dedicated and put the effort out to be a real employee. The apprenticeship program is not cheap. This program is not cheap for 16 weeks. It’s going to cost us probably $8,000.

“We’re in the final phase of rolling it out. We need trained people, desperately. The demand is greater, because things are so technical now. The whole industry has just gotten so technical with everything from doing the paperwork to doing the work.”

St. John Schools Superintendent Kevin George said program leaders have met with local principals and counselors to identify students who could benefit from the program.

“We are making sure the graduating seniors who are interested in this program know about it,” George told School Board members Thursday.

“We’re doing everything that we can to make sure that every student has the opportunity and all the parents know, as well.”

Eliza Eugene and her Blessed to be a Blessing community organization are helping coordinate the program with All Star Electric and the public school districts.

She said the program is strictly for high school seniors from St. John and St. Charles Parishes, but added she is working with St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom to expand the effort to the general public.

She said school officials are proud to have a company based in St. John Parish partner with the St. John Parish School System to train young adults.

Eugene also added local high school seniors who need paying jobs after school can still take advantage of this effort.

“Blessed to be a Blessing will pay each student that enters into the program minimum wages while they are in school,” Eugene said.

“We understand with high school seniors, often there is a need to work. We are trying not to have the kids pass on something that can possibly take them into a career if they are economically challenged and cannot go to college. We will pay them minimum wages.”

District 3 School Board Member Gerald J. Keller described the program as a “golden opportunity” for seniors who are not college-bound.

“This is a great company, not a fly-by-night one, to work for,” Keller said in describing All Star Electric.