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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Taylor Lavoie, right, and Matt Dube race to screw as many screws into boards of wood at Liberty Hill Construction's station at Wednesday evening's Construction Industry Career Fair at Nashua High School South.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Emmanuel Rodriguez races a stop watch while hammering three nails into a wood beam while Mike Carle, who works at G.M. Roth Design Remodeling in Nashua, holds the beam during Wednesday night's Construction Industry Career Fair at Nashua High School South.
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nashua businesses show students diversity of construction at Career & Trade Fair

Cameron Kittle

NASHUA – Junior students Ben Fillebrown and Kevin Allen raced to drill as many screws as they could into a wooden board Wednesday night, competing in one of the many hands-on activities set up in the cafeteria at Nashua High School South.

The loud humming sounds of power drills and the hammering of nails filled the room, as students hustled between stations to talk to local businesses at the annual Career & Trade Fair organized by the city’s two public high schools and the Greater Manchester/Nashua Home Builders & Remodelers Association.

The hands-on activities attract the most students, but the fair also has businesses show students how to read and draw design plans or talk about a technical degree in college.

Fillebrown and Allen said it’s a good opportunity to explore their career interests and have some fun with friends, too.

One of their classmates, Stephan Othot, said he likes woodworking and building furniture. He’s curious about starting his own business in that field someday and asked a few business owners about their experiences.

Michele Verley, a career development adviser at South, said there are many jobs in the construction industry, from engineers with a college degree to designers or carpenters without one.

With college tuition becoming more expensive every year, it’s important for students to know the field is diverse, she said. The Career & Trade Fair is an opportunity to show students what’s out there, no matter what they want to do after high school.

The businesses don’t sell themselves or offer jobs but rather provide information about their trade, she said.

The Career & Trade Fair is becoming more popular, now in its fourth year, and promoted through the high schools’ two-year construction technology program.

“Whenever we have an opportunity to get students engaged, it’s such a good learning experience for them,” Verley said.

About 15 local businesses participated, some offering games, prizes or sponsoring students. Each business is a member of the area home building and remodeling association.

Gerry Roth, president of G.M. Roth Design Remodeling in Nashua, said the event is important because students can discover viable options for their future and hear about the careers from people immersed in the industry.

“It’s a way for them to see how it is, so they can see that they are real businesses, real people out there,” he said.

Parents also joined the fair to talk to local businesses and technical colleges about future options for their kids.

Toby Estes visited the career fair with his stepson, Jaret Johnson, who is a junior at South. Estes said Jaret has an interest in architecture and takes CAD classes at school, so the fair was another way to explore those options around real companies.

“I hope it fuels his desires; I hope it keeps him excited about moving toward his future,” he said. “The big thing is having choices, whether he wants to be an architect or not.”

Jonathan Baez, a junior at South, said he’s interested in automotive or electrical jobs and might start work right out of high school. He’s a student in South’s two-year construction technology program and took advantage of the opportunity to talk to local businesses.

“You get to see these guys are more than just plain people fixing your house or wiring your house,” he said.

Bob Cormier, president of Cuoco & Cormier Engineering in Nashua, has taken on local high school students to shadow him at work in the past, and he participates in the career fair to talk to students about their engineering interests.

He said one of his friends went all the way through medical school and graduated before deciding he didn’t want to be a doctor. That’s a mistake he wants to help students avoid, if possible.

“The more opportunities students have to visit businesses and understand a career totally, the better they can find their direction,” he said.

The hands-on activities at the career fair and the day-in-the-life descriptions can help point students in the right direction, he said, which helps add something to classroom learning.

“A book can’t always tell you what the career is like,” he said. “You have to get out there.”

The Learning Curve appears Thursdays in The Telegraph. Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or Also check out Kittle (@Telegraph_CamK) on Twitter.