This summer, St. Malachy's Memorial High School student Ashton LeBlanc joined the yard crew at Irving Equipment.
Typically, summer students contribute by helping out with various projects around the yard and warehouse, but Ashton's willingness to try something new led to him helping out throughout the business, from the paint shop to the welding block.
Ashton is part of the PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) En Route to Success program, which is offered to St. Malachy's Memorial High School students. The program allows students to obtain credits toward their graduation through hands-on experiences.
Providing students with a meaningful work experience is something we strive to do. So when a student shows interest in learning, we can't help but oblige. Manager Bill Pasch saw that opportunity for Ashton.
"When we first spoke with him about some of the activities he would get to learn, I could see some hesitance, but that didn’t last long. It only took one afternoon with some of our team members in the shop, and his hesitance shifted to excitement. Every time he was given his assignment, you could almost see a hop in his step, excited to see what he was going to learn, and what the day was going to bring."
We sat down with Ashton to get his thoughts on his summer experience.
What was your favourite part of working at Irving Equipment this summer?
Ashton: I got to learn about all the jobs at Irving Equipment, and all of the work that goes into running this type of business. I really enjoyed painting, learning how to properly prepare and paint equipment, and working in the mechanics shop with my hands.
Did you have a favourite job or project that you worked on?
Ashton: I got to work in the shop with the mechanics doing fluid changes, maintenance and putting together a picker.
What would you say you've learned?
Ashton: I learned a lot. I learned how to properly prep and paint to make a good finish that lasts. I learned about a ton of tools I have never heard of or used before. I learned how to do general maintenance and fluid changes on heavy equipment and how to weld. I learned a lot about how cranes work, and about some of the types of cranes in the company.
Did we meet your summer job expectations?
Ashton: When I got here I thought I was going to be sweeping and cleaning the shop all summer. This was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I got a chance to learn a lot of new skills, learn how to use a lot of tools I’d never heard of, and learn about some of the jobs in this field.
Would you say your summer here helped you make some decisions about what you'd like to do in the future?
Ashton: I haven’t figured out what I want to do yet, but I know I really like working with my hands.
The PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) Program was Initiated 20 years ago in Saint John by Mr. James K. Irving and the Anglophone South School District. PALS has grown to over 30 schools in NB with close to 200 business and community partners and hundreds of volunteers.
Working together, schools and their PALS partners help impact children’s academic achievements, attendance, school spirit, motivation, social skills, sports activity, and cultural awareness. Volunteer activities include mentoring, coaching, serving breakfast, offering career guidance, organizing after school clubs, and helping behind the scenes.
Ashton is part of the PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) En Route to Success program, which is offered to St. Malachy's Memorial High School students. The program allows students to obtain credits toward their graduation through hands-on experiences. PALS and the Anglophone School District are very pleased to be expanding this program to Saint John High in the coming school year.