2020 SHS graduate helped build new Herrman Elementary
These days it can be quite uncommon for young adults to want to work in the skilled trades and in that regard, Kelten Pfaff, a 2020 graduate of Sparta High School, is a rarity. Pfaff recently completed Market & Johnson’s youth carpenter apprenticeship program and signed with the company as a carpenter apprentice.
Last school year, Market & Johnson, which has offices in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Oakdale, MN, came to SHS offering students the opportunity to earn a wage as they built their skillset and launched a career in the trades.
Pfaff said with two older brothers working in construction, he was eager to learn more about the apprenticeship. On the day of his interview, at 17-years-old, he signed up for the program.
The program consists of a four-year apprenticeship with 16 weeks of classes throughout. In order to become a journeyman, Pfaff will have to maintain his eligibility by completing four weeks of training in a classroom each year and the rest will be on-the-job training.
Prior to his senior year at SHS, Pfaff worked at the new Herrman Elementary School as a youth carpenter apprentice all summer long, working on the foundation and footings of the structure. Then in the fall, he went back to school to focus on academics as well as athletics, including wrestling and football.
In order to advance to a carpenter apprentice, participants must be 18 years old and have earned their diploma. Pfaff turned 18 in January and by June he had graduated with a high school diploma and went back to work with Market & Johnson.
By the time Pfaff completes the program, he will be a trained professional in a skilled trade with no college debt.
“Going back to school after I graduated really wasn’t much of an option for me, I’ve never really been a big fan of school,” he said. “When the opportunity with Market & Johnson came along, I knew I would be set if I stayed with it.”
Growing up on a farm helped Pfaff develop a good work ethic as well as working for his father, Shawn Pfaff, who owns Eddie’s Convenience Store on Highway 21 in Sparta.
“I like working outside and I’ve never been scared of working hard,” he said. “Working hard has never been an issue for me.”
Pfaff completed his work at Herrman Elementary in Sparta last week. “I started last year at the school from scratch with nothing there and then I came back to finish all of the outside concrete and sidewalks. It was cool to see,” he said, adding that he will begin work at the high school in Winona, MN this week.
“I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to learn how to build things and I’m looking forward to that,” Pfaff said. “The cool thing about this job is that when I’m older I’ll be able to look at a building and say I helped build it.”