Gluesenkamp  Perez visits Kalama High School and speaks with Cory Torppa

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) announced on Monday that Cory Torppa, director of Kalama High School’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) program, will be her guest during this week’s 2023 State of the Union Address in Washington D.C.

Glusenkamp Perez, who, prior to being elected to Congress in November, co-founded an auto repair and machine shop with her husband, invited Torppa after learning about his longstanding commitment to preparing students for careers in the trades. 

“Supporting career and technical education programs is key to rebuilding the American workforce, but too many students are still told that a college degree is the only path to a successful future,” said Gluesenkamp Perez. “Mr. Torppa is opening so many doors for Kalama students to pursue good-paying, high-demand careers in the trades while making sure they're having fun along the way. It's an honor to host him for the State of the Union and to thank him for the work he does every single day."

Torppa, who has never been to the nation’s capital, was at a loss for words when asked what it felt like to receive an invitation to the State of the Union Address.

“It’s overwhelming. I’m just so thankful, humbled and honored. I don’t really know what to say,” he said. “I just want to go and speak up for Kalama kids. We’ve got great things going on here and I want to continue that.”

Currently underway in Torppa’s classroom is the construction of a fully functional 400-square-foot tiny home – a first-of-its-kind student project in Kalama that’s taking real-world, hands-on learning to a whole new level. The project was funded by a number of grants, including a $100,000 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which was awarded earlier this school year.

After school on Friday, Gluesenkamp Perez visited Torppa’s classroom to see the tiny home project first-hand, and to hear from students about what they’re learning.

“It’s maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Gluesenkamp Perez after the visit. “These kids are building a house! They’re going to have wiring, they’re going to have plumbing… they’re building their own trailer to move the house on. It’s just phenomenal, the skills and passion that are coming out of here. It makes me really proud to be an American; proud to be a Southwest Washingtonian.”

The State of the Union Address is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at 6 p.m. local time.

News coverage of Torppa's invitation to the State of the Union Address: