Four Montecito High School students are on their way to construction careers at Swinerton now that they’ve signed letters of intent to work for the national building company.
The students, brothers Nick and Matt Tarantino, Adrian Garcia and Manuel Moreno, signed commitments May 30 that enter them in a four-year program coordinated with Carpenters Union Local 619. Two of the students will focus on framing and drywall jobs and two will work on concrete parking garages.
Roger Kazemier, field operations manager at Swinerton, said the Montecito students will be paired with journeyman carpenters who will guide them in on-the-job training. Every six months the students will attend school at the Local 619 union hall in the Miramar area of San Diego. The lessons will lead to certification through Palomar College, Kazemier said.
As First Period Apprentices, they will earn $14.80 an hour plus benefits and bonus pay of $5 per hour to be paid each July 1. After four years in the program they’ll be journeyman carpenters with the opportunity to earn $37 an hour.
The four students were selected based on recommendations from their construction teacher, Nick Jordan.
“They’re all seniors, they all have vehicles and they’ve proven to have a good work ethic and a desire (to work in the industry),” Kazemier said. “They have to have a general contractor/union company that says we will put them to work and they will show up to school.”
The Montecito students have already toured the union hall where they will receive training when not on a job site.
Nick Tarantino said Jordan, who is his teacher, initially coaxed him into taking a construction class, but he ended up liking the work and thinks carpentry will make a good career. He believes his classroom instruction and his experiences tutoring other students to compete in SkillsUSA have prepared him for his on-the-job-training with Swinerton.
“I thought the opportunity was great and I couldn’t pass it up,” he said.
Moreno said he’s had the additional benefit of working in construction with his father. Moreno said he has a strong work ethic and feels fully prepared for the job training challenges.
“I’m looking to start at the bottom and work my way up through the ranks,” he said. “I’m looking to become a project manager some day.”
Jordan said the Swinerton signing was “history in the making” for Montecito High’s construction program, which was built from the ground floor five years ago with birdhouse projects.
“This is such an amazing opportunity, I can’t express that enough,” said Jordan, who said the four participants can look forward to putting a down payment on a car and eventually a house with the money they earn at Swinerton. “I couldn’t be more proud of the students here tonight.”
When introducing the four students at the signing ceremony, Jordan described their individual strengths that qualified them for the program. Jordan complimented Garcia for his intelligence and soft people skills.
“You’re going to hit the ground running,” Jordan told Garcia. “You’re one of the top picks, hands down.”
Jordan introduced Matt Tarantino as a reluctant participant in his class who grew into one of the best carpenters. Jordan said Matt’s determination showed through when the power went out at the recent state SkillsUSA competition, but he kept going.
Swinerton Drywall Superintendent Eric Jaramillo complimented the students’ work ethic and acknowledged a world of opportunity open to them.
“You guys have the hustle — I look for that,” Jaramillo said. “I’m excited and I hope you guys are, too.”
Jordan says he hopes to be able to expand the letter of intent signings with Swinerton to eight students next year and 12 students the following year.
In addition to the letters, Swinerton provided each of the four students with DeWalt tools, including snips, a folding retractable knife and screwdriver set. Swinerton also recently donated $5,000 worth of DeWalt tools to the Montecito High construction class.
“They didn’t have to do that,” Jordan said. “They believe in what we’re doing here.”
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