National Signing Day isn’t just for high school athletes anymore.

Six Baraboo seniors signed “letters of intent” to pursue a skilled trade after graduation at Baraboo High School’s first SkillsUSA National Signing Day event Wednesday, led by their SkillsUSA adviser and technical education teacher Aric Hanusa.

“I think it’s great for our students to be recognized for working in the trades,” Hanusa said. “There’s so many great opportunities for them to provide for themselves and their families. They did a wonderful job in their high school career at demonstrating things they’ve learned here, taking the initiative to go work in industry, make sure that’s what they want to do, and then they’re following through with it.

“They’ve got a plan. They’re going to be great. I’m not really worried about them — that’s the great thing,” he said.

Sponsored by Klein Tools, the event celebrated the six students for committing to a job offer, apprenticeship or advanced technical training in fields such as residential wiring, building trades and renovations, HVAC or plumbing.

Student Nick Freed said the event was a good opportunity to let others know there are options other than going into debt for college.

“It’s definitely a good option. We need more tradesmen and skilled labor,” he said.

He’s been getting work-release from school for an apprenticeship, which has been “a really great experience for me,” Freed said. He plans to pursue a masters program for electrical and work with The Electrician Inc. of Mount Horeb.

Freed also happens to make a cameo appearance in the National Signing Day promotional video, because it used footage from the SkillsUSA national competition that Freed attended, Hanusa said.

After taking almost all of the tech ed classes offered at BHS, Jayden Parchem said he decided to work in a skilled trade. He plans to attend Madison Area Technical College and work with Nu-Life Roofing & Siding of Baraboo.

“I kinda wanted to pursue the construction trades because I like working with my hands and building things,” he said. “I like feeling a sense of accomplishment when I get something done.”

Other students and their employers were: John Phelps, Holtz Builders Inc. of Lake Delton; Traton Winecke, JP Cullen of Madison for carpentry; Christian Ruefer, Northern Exports of Baraboo for construction; and Noah Thomte, Brute Construction of Baraboo.

Hanusa hopes to host a signing day every year as part of his vision to honor students who are college and career ready.

“We’re trying to give equal weight to our career-ready students, who are going to go be impactful in our society and our community,” Hanusa said. “I mean, really, these ones are usually the ones that stick around and then they have longer impacts on our community.”

Follow Susan Endres on Twitter @EndresSusan or call her at 745-3506.

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