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Como High School Student finds Art, Creativity, and Purpose in Construction Work

By: Emily Sweeney

For Charlahn “Lahni” Maggitt, being creative is part of how he expresses himself.

“If I looked up a picture, I could draw it,” Maggitt said. “Other people definitely describe me as creative because I like all kinds of drawing, painting, poetry, and even sculpting.”

Charlahn Maggitt views construction as a career for creativity. Maggitt joined the Minnesota Trades Academy to follow in the footsteps of many his family members who have careers in construction. Photo Credit: Karin Ellefson

An 11th grader at Como Park Senior High School, Maggitt’s creativity has been fueled with multiple art and woodshop classes that he has taken over the past two years. Maggitt’s creative mind, his visual learning preference and eagerness to gain experience in the construction field, led him to apply for a paid summer construction internship with the Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA).

The Minnesota Trades Academy offers two different tracks for students to learn about the construction trades through hands-on experience. Track I is a six-week introduction to construction career opportunities. Youth who participate in Track I can move onto Track II, a nine-week trade specialization course the following summer. The completion of both tracks can sets a student up to launch a career in the construction industry, beginning with a registered apprenticeship with a Minnesota building trades union for those who are at least 18 years old and have earned a high school diploma or GED.

Participating in the Track I internship program this summer, Maggitt has built a bench, a birdhouse, a stool and shingled a shed.

Many of Maggitt’s peers look up to him because he is familiar with construction trades work.

“My uncle, Anthony, is always telling me to go into the trades and start a career in construction because you get paid so well  – sometimes like $20 an hour at age 18 – and you get vacation and PTO,” Maggitt said. “I signed up for this program because I wanted more experience.”

Maggitt’s uncle works in construction and so does his cousin, Charlie, and his brother, Charleon.

If you haven’t seen the similarity yet, it’s not only an interest in construction and building that connects this family, but also the first four letters of their names. Charlahn Maggitt has a brother Charleon, and a sister, Charleigha. His mother is Charnita.

“Yeah, I guess it’s a lot of us, we’re named after our grandpa Charles,” Maggitt said. He laughs: “I’ve got cousins and aunts with ‘Char’ in their names too.”

Reflecting on his family, Maggitt recalls growing up around tools and watching a variety of construction projects, including a huge shed that his uncle built from the ground up in Mississippi.

“It was cool to see that they made all of it, the whole structure,” Maggitt said. “I like seeing the finished idea in front of me.”

While Maggitt considers his options for after high school, he has determined a few things.

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First, he would be interested in a career in the construction trades. Second, he knows that he wants to pursue a college degree at some point.

“Como Park High School also has a JROTC program,” Maggitt said. “I know I’m not interested in the military training option, but I do plan on going to college and I will consider a career in the trades.”

Interested in a career in construction?

Students who would like to learn more about careers in Minnesota’s construction industry should visit ConstructionCareers.org. To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy and to apply for the program’s internship program for the summer of 2020,click here.

The Minnesota Trades Academy is supported through the generosity of the following organizations: the Construction Careers Foundation, Apprenticeship Coordinators Association of Minnesota (ACAM), City of Minneapolis/STEP UP Program, City of St. Paul Facilities Department, City of St. Paul/Right Track Program, City of St. Paul/HREEO, Kraus-Anderson Construction, M.A. Mortenson Co., McGough Construction Company, the Minnesota State Legislature, Minneapolis and St. Paul Building and Construction Trades, OPUS Foundation, PCL Construction, Ramsey County/U LEAD Program, Ryan Companies, Saint Paul Police Department, St. Paul Public Schools, and White Bear Lake Area Schools.