PEARL ― The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is recognizing two career and technical education standouts as its students of the month for February.

Selected from MCEF’s northern and southern districts, respectively, are Luke Burleson, a welding student at Tupelo Career and Technical Center, and Cole Sciacca, a welding student at Hancock County Career Technical Center.

Winners are chosen based on grades, attendance, discipline in class, outstanding achievements, leadership abilities, and post-graduation plans. All will compete for student of the year honors at the foundation’s annual awards program in May.

"We congratulate our student of the month winners for being such excellent representatives of high school career tech programs in Mississippi," said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. "We're proud of each of them for helping ensure our state has a highly skilled workforce to support the state's growing construction and manufacturing industries."

An up-and-coming craftsman with a passion for community service, Burleson’s impressive leadership skills and exemplary character combine to help create a positive school environment and example for other students.

Touting a 3.89 grade point average, Burleson manages a full schedule of activities that includes archery, scholastic shooting and baseball. He also volunteers with Faith Food Pantry, Tupelo Athletics Live Media Streaming and Brewer United Methodist Church community missions.

Burleson hopes to become a wildlife biologist.

Meanwhile, Sciacca’s genuine leadership skills and rapport with fellow students make him a natural at helping others succeed in their endeavors. A hard-working student with a passion to perfect his trade, he is active in his school’s SkillsUSA chapter.

Away from school, Sciacca enjoys hunting, fishing and working on the family farm. After graduation, he plans to continue his welding training at Pearl River Community College.

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at