GREAT FALLS - It's graduation season, and for the first time ever, Great Falls Public Schools recognized several high school seniors Wednesday for choosing to pursue careers in trade work.

The event took place at GFPS High School House to celebrate the students who helped build it from scratch as they go on to the next chapter of their lives.

School staff, teachers and local businesses clapped for the students, as they took turns announcing their career plans. 18-year-old Reno Pospisil, who worked on the house, is going into construction.

"I like working with my hands, been doing it for a while. The opportunity arose after i took this class; it really boosted the encouragement i needed to get into the construction field," said Reno, a senior at Great Falls High.

Just like athletes on National Signing Day, Reno signed a 'letter of intent' to pursue a carpentry apprenticeship with Sletten Construction in Great Falls.

And he's not alone: other students also signed with local trade companies. Some decided on electric work, others on fence making and a few went for computer science and medicine at the College of Great Falls MSU.  

"It's kind of neat to see that people are starting to take interest in the trades and they're starting to recognize that this is a profound thing," said Reno.

It’s good timing on their part, as one fifth of Montana’s current workers are expected to retire in the next decade, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

"Across the state, across the country you can't find enough skilled labor out there,” said Jake Navarro, the superintendent at Sletten Construction. “So the more we can do to promote and get young people interested in trades, and turn into tradesman, the better off we are as an industry."

The students are set to go into their respective fields and programs in the coming months. In the meantime, the high school house will open on May 23 for a new family to call it its home in June.

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