By Alex Sakariassen 

How Montana is paying the way in trades education

From the cockpit to the welding shop, a state-funded public school program is helping put students in the workplaces they want


September 15, 2023

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Gracie Johnson didn't want to be a pilot. At least, not when she first walked into her eighth-grade science class at Billings' Ben Steele Middle School. Her teacher, Patrick Kenney, quickly tapped her for a student project building an experimental aircraft at a private hangar, and while she found that work interesting, Johnson initially resisted Kenney's encouragement to step into a cockpit for a test flight. Eventually she agreed.

"It just spiraled from there," Johnson told Montana Free Press this month.

At age 15, Johnson began pursuing her private pilot's license. Two years and more than...

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