The Centennial Gravel Pit on Bond Lake Road was very busy last week when high school students from Williams Lake and 100 Mile House learned how to operate heavy equipment.
For the eighth time, local industry and WorkSafeBC collaborated with School District 27 to deliver the popular Heavy Metal Rocks program.
Beginning on Wednesday, May 9, a total of 18 students from Williams Lake’s Lake City Secondary, Skyline and GROW and six students from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary in 100 Mile House began learning industrial safety requirements and how to operate heavy equipment used in forestry, mining and general construction.
Craig Gunnarson, a general foreman of operations with Gibraltar Mine, was the pit supervisor for the program this year, and said Saturday morning that it had gone well.
“We met Wednesday morning at Thompson Rivers University with the students and then we were up at the site by the afternoon,” he explained.
The students cleaned up garbage at the gravel pit and set up the tents.
Gunnarson said he and Amanda Black from West Fraser directed where the machines should be placed for the various stations.
Black, a logging supervisor for West Fraser, said the logs harvested and cut to the appropriate lengths by the students were going to West Fraser Plywood for processing.
New to the program this year was a Bullex fire station, where the students learned about fire safety and how to extinguish a fire.
“It is actually computerized so the students receive an analysis of their response,” Gunnarson said.
“We use the Bullex for training our mine rescue team at Gibraltar as well.”
Each year, students in Grades 11 and 12 who are interested in a career in an industrial trade are selected to take the program.
As she got ready to try out a compactor Saturday morning, Grade 12 student Alyssa Burns said she had really enjoyed the opportunity to try out the equipment.
“By far my favourite was either the backhoe, the mini excavator or the buncher,” she said.
“When I got in them it clicked immediately and it was just so much fun.”
In another location, Pete Skene Ogden Secondary Grade 11 student Marina Guimond was just about the learn some things from Allteck powerline technician Jared Spreng about how to be safe on the job.
“The skidder was my favourite,” she said.
“I enjoyed whipping around and getting to know all the controls.”
Spreng said he enjoyed working with the students.
“They ask a lot of questions and we’ve tried our best to inform them about what we do in our career,” Spreng said.
Gunnarson said the number of people who volunteered to help with the program was a bonus.
“We couldn’t ask for more. It’s been great,” he added.
On Saturday afternoon the parents of the students were attending the site to see the students receive their certificates.
In fact, some of the students were building a stage for the ceremony with the heavy equipment they were learning to use.
Throughout the four days, the Lions Club of Williams Lake prepared meals for the students, keeping them well fed and hydrated.