Apr 07, 2023

Heights students earn Level 1 Mini Excavator Certification

Posted By: The ReporterMay 12, 2023

Eight Hamilton Heights High School students recently completed a two-day course to earn their Level 1 Mini Excavator Certification.

Safety and maintenance education in the classroom was a big part of leading up to specific focus on this piece of equipment. It involved taking written exams, including one on safety, which requires a perfect score, followed by a day of hands-on equipment operations in the Sandbox, the district's outdoor classroom.

Those students who just notched a valuable post-graduation credential include Lola Wilson, Logan Mise, Sam Force, Arthur Smith, David Eads, Dakota Killen, Nate Williams, and James Zachary.

Students learned about the anatomy and moving parts of an excavator, how to maintain and inspect excavators, as well as how to safely use forks and attachments among other important aspects of this piece of heavy equipment under the supervision of certified McAllister/Caterpillar trainer, Ridge Inman.

Heights’ Construction (Vertical and Horizontal) Trades Education (CTE) program offers students valuable hands-on experience, certifications, and essential career-ready skills upon graduation inside and outside the classroom. This specialty course was made possible through Heights’ Construction Trades educator, Kevin Sheets in collaboration with the district's industry partners at MacAllister/Caterpillar, Reith-Riley, Beatty Construction, and E&B Paving.

"I am very proud of these students who earned their Level 1 Mini Excavator certification," Sheets said. "Industry-recognized certifications are important for students to achieve and demonstrate to potential employers the skills they have accomplished while in high school. It does require an investment of time, knowledge, and actual experience to learn to safely operate this type of equipment. They also earned their OSHA 10 safety certification and demonstrated their knowledge of the safety rules regarding running one of these machines in the field."

In fact, senior Lola Wilson, who is planning on studying construction management at Purdue University in the fall, has an internship with the Indianapolis-based Sheil Sexton Company. "Among the top 10 percent of her class, Lola is taking the CTE pathway toward a career in an industry and is representative of the next generation of tradespeople," Sheets noted.

"Our CTE program, the first in the state and now in its fifth year, is designed to give students valuable certifications and hands-on experience to better position them to enter the construction workforce in a high-wage career after graduating from high school," Sheets said. "There is a great need for skilled tradesmen and women in the vertical and horizontal trades. This highly desirable career path offers incredible opportunities to earn high wages and benefits. We are committed to growing our CTE program and providing even more opportunities for students to gain real-world experience that helps develop skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders."

Sheets has received calls from educators around the state and beyond for help in modeling their program after the one at Hamilton Heights.

"I believe this program would not be as successful as it is if it weren't for the leadership and vision of our administration," Sheets said. "I am grateful to our principal, Jarrod Mason, and Superintendent Dr. Arrowood for their support and encouragement of our ‘thinking outside the box’ to help our students achieve and succeed in the program. I also want to thank MacAllister/CAT trainer Ridge Inman for his involvement in the program and supervision during the hands-on portion in the Sandbox. Thank you to MacAllister/CAT, Reith-Riley, Beatty Construction and E&B Paving for your partnership in providing opportunities for our students to gain real-world experience in heavy equipment operation that prepares them for life and careers in the construction industry beyond high school."