Two Ocean Springs High School seniors graduate from Ingalls Shipbuilding program

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - High schoolers along the Gulf Coast recently graduated from the Shipbuilder Career Tech Program for Ingalls Shipbuilding company.

We caught up with two of the graduates from the program at Ocean Springs High School, and they said they’re ready to take on their new chapter in life.

Both Zack Millwood and Landon Walker were proud to say they graduated from an opportunity of a lifetime. They both graduated from the Shipbuilder Career Tech Program for Ingalls Shipbuilding company.

Millwood said that he’s going into ship fitting and Walker will work with sheet metal once they start in June 2021.

“I’m not a school kid,” said Walker. “So, I just went ahead and found a good area to be able to free, learn workforce outside of school, while also being inside school so that I’m prepared to be in the workforce when I get out of school.”

The Shipbuilder Career Tech Program is a partnership among Ingalls Shipbuilding and multiple schools along the Gulf Coast. Students said that the program took a school year to finish, but once a student completes the program, they will have a job offer based on their trade.

Millwood also added “My whole family’s been in blue-collar. So, I mean this is probably the best route for me. I’m about to be on my own in the next month so this is my easiest passage into it.”

The students explained that you must enroll in Career and Technical Education for two years before joining the tech program. This program includes careers as welders, riggers, painters, sheet metal workers, and pipefitters. Both of the boys explained that the tech program was perfect for them based on their needs.

Ocean Springs High trade instructor Ernie LeBatard said it helped make the transition into the Shipbuilder Career Tech Program easier.

“One of the biggest things the industry needs is one, show that you have the work ethic that will give you a job to do that you can finish. That’s what we do here, we assign projects and they’re responsible for finishing the projects,” said LeBatard. “Two, just to be able to read a tape measure and hand tools. They have a construction background and can build from that.”

Walker added “We came from construction, so carpentry was the way to go with hands-on work. We already knew what we were doing but it was at a higher standard.”

The future ship workers said that experience from co-workers will help them at their job, on top of their experience from the shipbuilding program and their construction trade through the Career and Technical Education program.

“You also have people who’ve worked 50 plus years out there,” said Walker. “They’re great teachers so that brings more confidence on what you’re about to do.”

Millwood also recommended that other seniors give the program a shot, if interested.

“If you see the good in the end of something, then do it,” said Millwood. “This is the best opportunity straight out of high school at 18-years-old.”

The seniors said they had more than 30 students along the Gulf Coast who graduated with them in the program.

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