schools.jpgSan Francisco city and school officials Thursday unveiled a new multi-use facility in the Mission District that will provide students the space to learn various construction and engineering trades.

The solar-powered building at John O’Connell High School will host students from around the city who are part of the new “TECH 21, Learn to Earn” after-school program, which proves hands-on training courses in architecture, engineering, construction and automotive technology.

Students will earn credits for the courses, which are being developed in partnership with businesses in the respective industries, and will be eligible for city or union apprenticeships right after high school.

The new building will also be used during the school day by students at John O’Connell who are enrolled in construction trades classes.

Mayor Ed Lee, who was on hand for the unveiling Thursday afternoon, said the skills students are learning will help them maintain San Francisco’s infrastructure, which he said is “one of the most important things any city can do.”

Lee said students “are not just going to school to be bored … we have to get them trained and ready for those jobs.”

Janet Schulze, former principal at John O’Connell and the school district’s assistant superintendent in charge of high schools, said the “TECH 21” program takes a look at “what are some jobs available for students, and what do kids need to know to be competitive” in the economy.

Fanny Tsai, a student at George Washington High School, said she learned firsthand about the life of an engineer after taking a class at her school and then interning last summer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 6.

“It was a great experience,” Tsai said. “It was a test of my potential in engineering, and now I’m really confident that I want to pursue this career.”

The school district is seeking more business partners to host students in internships or job shadowing opportunities, as well as donations for materials for some of the courses offered at the new facility.

For more information on the program, contact James Cole with the district at or call (415) 379-7764.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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