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Sat, July 20

‘A future in this community’: 10 Valley Academy students sign up for jobs at SkillsUSA National Signing Day

Valley Academy construction students Edgar Arreola, Jared Byler and Dylan White, from left, hold their employment certificates Wednesday at SkillsUSA National Signing Day. VVN/Bill Helm

Valley Academy construction students Edgar Arreola, Jared Byler and Dylan White, from left, hold their employment certificates Wednesday at SkillsUSA National Signing Day. VVN/Bill Helm

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Valley Academy construction student Adan Lomeli signs an employment certificate with Wired-Up Systems at SkillsUSA National Signing Day. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – A junior at Sedona Red Rock High School, Adan Lomeli is in his first year studying construction at Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education.

Lomeli plans to continue his studies next year at Valley Academy – also known as VACTE.

But he arrived at SkillsUSA National Signing Day with one goal in mind. To get a job with Wired-Up Systems in Cottonwood.

Wednesday, Lomeli was one of 10 Verde Valley construction students who signed certificates of employment as the CTE school hosted its first National Signing Day.

Valley Academy construction instructor Travis Black told his students that “only a handful of schools in Arizona are chosen” to be part of National Signing Day.

“And you all are one of them,” he said.

With promissory note in hand, Lomeli said that he plans to “work hard and make lots of money – and to have a future.”

Before Lomeli penned his name to the employment certificate, Black called him a “go getter.”

“Adan shows up every day on time. He’s got awesome work ethic,” Black said. “And he puts a smile on my face. Adan’s got a great sense of humor. In a world with a lot of hot heads, a good sense of humor helps level the playing field.”

Construction has many faces, not just in its people but in its specialties. Lomeli is learning electrical and wiring. Luis Rivera, a senior at Arizona Jr./Sr. High School in Camp Verde, has taken to framing.

Rivera signed on with Tierra Verde Builders on Wednesday. Though Rivera has already been working with Tierra Verde, signing the certificate means that both parties believe in the future as much as the present.

“This is a career, and this is what we’re here for today,” said John Bassous, longtime owner of Tierra Verde Builders who sold the business to his 27-year-old son Ben barely a year ago.

Rivera and other construction students have been coming out on job sites “a few hours each week, getting on-the-job training,” Bassous said.

“We help build on what Mr. Black has taught them,” Bassous said. “He’s done a tremendous job training them, not just in skills but also in attitude.”

As Tierra Verde came to terms with four students at National Signing Day, Bassous said that the Camp Verde company “probably had 15 qualified people fill out applications.”

“But we’ve given these guys first crack at filling the spots,” Bassous said. “They’ve earned spots on our crew that normally would go to people with seven or eight years of experience. It’s a great story that for young people, there is a future in this community.”

Each year, SkillsUSA holds National Signing Day acknowledges, honors and encourages high school students who have chosen to pursue a career as a professional in the skilled trades.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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