FORT MOHAVE — The Academy of Building Industries public charter high school hosted an open house last week to share just what it does for the students who attend the school that specializes in construction education.

Hosted at the school off Lipan Boulevard in Fort Mohave, the event included a dinner for attendees as well as a raffle with prizes and a chance to view what the students have been working on in their classroooms.

AOBI’s curriculum is geared toward the vocational trades for students who may have had issues attending more traditional schools. Students work toward their high school diploma by following state-mandated graduation requirements while focusing on a trade to complete their elective credits. In the end, they receive a diploma, as well as the possibility of a certificate in the trade they’ve specialized in. 

The building trade elective courses include framing, welding, woodshop, remodeling, principles of engineering, drafting, calligraphy, blacksmithing and building maintenance, all of which can lead to careers in the building/construction industry.

Woodshop instructor Paula Deshaw walked open house attendees through the various shops at the school to provide a first-hand look at the work the students are doing as well as finished pieces in areas such as woodworking, 3D-printed metal fabrication and welding. The students have produced some stunning work, including an award-winning gun cabinet that took second place and Best in Class at the Mohave County Fair and multiple 3D metal custom pieces that also won awards at the fair. 

Deshaw said there is a waiting list to get into the school, which has a maximum of 130 students; there are 125 actively enrolled this semester.

Students get paid for showing up to school Deshaw said, and are docked for missing school, “Just like if they missed a day of work,” she said. She said the students wear uniforms, as most employees in the trade fields do, to get them acclimated to keeping the uniforms clean.

The school also offers a comprehensive autoshop course that educates students interested in auto repair, collision repair and body work, auto customizing and custom car building. 

The school boasts a car that participates in local drag races and Deshaw said a student who is studying professional drag racing drives the vehicle. 

Other elective courses cover more traditional curriculum, such as vocational math and business math. Students can explore a career with the National Park Service through the NPS Ranger Exploration course offered by AOBI. 

If physical education is more to the students’ liking, AOBI offers several courses that introduce that niche to interested students with such elective course offerings as girls physical education, general physical education, girls softball, basketball and other sports for those who want to become a physical education teacher or coach.

The school also has guitar courses for the musically inclined. Students currently enrolled in the guitar classes serenaded the parents and visitors at the open house during the dinner served by the business math students. The business math students also work with lunchroom food through their curriculum, which teaches them pricing of food, buying, price-per-serving and other aspects of restaurant operations. The students keep meticulous records and turn a profit on the lunch program, according to AOBI Principal Jean Thomas. 

Another new course offered at AOBI is horticulture. The school has converted an old school bus into what it calls “The Living Bus” which has been gutted and turned into a grow house for multiple plants and vegetables. The greenhouse has its own HVAC and grow lighting inside. 

Nearby stands the newly constructed Academy of Building Industries sign, fabricated out of steel welded by students and adorned with AOBI trade tools for letters. It is a stunning piece of art that showcases the skills taught at the campus.

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