Students in Sanford, Biddeford and Saco are getting some real-world experience through collaborative projects in their communities.

In Sanford, students who attend Sanford Regional Technical Center are helping construct a new office building for Sanford Housing Authority on School Street. The project broke ground recently, and at that ceremony, two students helped pour the foundation. Their work in the coming weeks and months will include carpentry, electrical wiring and landscaping as well as assistance in other areas like bookkeeping.

Students from the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology are doing their own projects in conjunction with local businesses to learn more about how a small business runs and what it takes to keep one going. They opened a “pop-up” store, Girl Gone Restless at 156 Main St. in Biddeford, recently which will stay open through the end of the year. A second pop-up store, Hand Made on Maine at 265 Main St., opened this week and will also stay in its location through the end of the holiday season.

Linda Verville teaches a retail sales course at the center and said her students learn new skills through the project and help out local businesses. The students have a variety of responsibilities, including cleaning the store, stocking and pricing inventory, working on displays and helping customers, she said.

Both of these projects are important experiences for students and will help develop their work ethic while showing them what it’s like in the working world. It may also show them what they want ”“ or don’t want ”“ to do in the future.

The work also helps out the businesses. In the case of the pop-up stores, more sales is one of the main goals, and more exposure for the business hosts and some local, Maine-made products and art sold in the stores.

In Sanford, students will help reduce the total costs for the project as they are not paid for the work. The nonprofit housing authority will be able to focus more of its dollars on its mission of helping people secure affordable housing, while gaining a new and better space for its staff.

We hope this type of collaboration will continue and expand. Teaching students valuable trades while providing real work experience is necessary to help prepare generations of young people for their future careers.

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Today’s editorial was written by City Editor Robyn Burnham on behalf of the Journal Tribune Editorial Board. Questions? Comments? Contact Managing Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski by calling 282-1535, Ext. 322, or via email at [email protected].