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Posted on: August 2, 2023

Clayton's First Highschool Intern Opens Door for Future Generations

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Collaboration between the Town of Clayton and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has generated a unique internship opportunity for local high school student, Brayden Lawhorn.  

Lawhorn is an Academy of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing student in Johnston County Public Schools. As a senior, Lawhorn must complete 120 hours of relevant internship-work experience to fulfill the program's graduation requirements.  

"The academy offers specialized courses in engineering and advanced manufacturing, which have helped me gain more knowledge and hands on experiences,” said Lawhorn. “This internship counts as two high school class credits, bringing me one step closer to graduating. This experience has been invaluable in preparing me for a bright future after graduation.” 

Lawhorn is the first high school student to be selected for a summer internship with the Town of Clayton. This opportunity was made possible for Lawhorn due to a partnership between the Town’s Engineering Department and the NCDPI Career and Technical Education (CTE) Summer Internship Program.  

Jonathan Jacobs, Assistant Engineering Director, served as Lawhorn’s supervisor this summer and said that Lawhorn embraced the intern experience and gained valuable skills he will be able to use throughout the rest of his career. 

“The CTE program provides a unique opportunity for high school students to experience what their future career may look like while earning college credit,” said Jacobs. “I am thankful for the CTE program and what it does to prepare students for their careers, something I didn't have the opportunity to experience when I was a student. Brayden’s performance this summer has opened the door for future generations of interns with the Town of Clayton.” 

The CTE internship program aims to provide students with the tools they need to become successful citizens, workers, and leaders in an ever-changing workforce. By emphasizing real-world skills and practical knowledge, it strives to give meaning to learning. 

“Brayden is already practicing the essential skills necessary to become a great employee and will be able to use these skills as he continues his education. JCPS Career and Technical Education is proud of the partnerships we have that allow students like Brayden to prepare for his future,” said Irma Bode, Lawhorn’s teacher.  

This summer, Lawhorn had the opportunity to work alongside Town of Clayton engineers and water resources professionals. During his internship, he learned how to conduct erosion control inspections, update asset management systems, perform file digitization, collect water samples, and test/repair backflow devices. 

Brandon Carroll, Utilities Compliance Supervisor, and Kyle Brady, FOG (Fats, Oils, & Grease) Technician, guided and entrusted Lawhorn with tasks related to the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) initiative, which aims to reduce potential lead exposure for consumers of tap water in the United States.  

According to Carroll, as a part of this initiative, Lawhorn's responsibility was to convert old paper files to a digital format and utilize Town of Clayton GIS programming to update all records in the Town's system. Thanks to Lawhorn's contributions, the Town has advanced within the LCRR project timeline set by the EPA. 

“We had the pleasure of having Brayden as part of our team this summer. He has done an excellent job of helping us complete projects and obtain updated, clean data that we can use to guarantee clean drinking water for the Town,” said Carroll. “Also, we can report this information to the EPA and advance our town's progress within the LCRR initiative.” 

Brayden plans to pursue a career in engineering after graduating from North Johnston High School next year. He said he believes that this internship with the Town has provided him with valuable insights into the numerous opportunities available to him within his desired field. 

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