If you take a non-profit home building organization and pair it with high school students interested in learning construction skills, amazing things will happen!
This past October, we had the privilege of partnering with LaFayette Big Picture School – an alternative high school where students are taught through project-based learning and community involvement. Unlike curriculum at other high schools, students spend time outside of the classroom volunteering and gaining real-life skills and are able to make their own decisions to create a course of study for what they are personally interested in.
Our core group of interns, which consist of four to six students and academic adviser, Walt Nowey, indicates that they were interested in construction because of the opportunity to do hands-on work and have fun at the same time. One student, Josh Jewett, wanted to take the year to try new things. Senior student, Keegan Benedict, reflects on his expectations at the start of the year and how they differ from what they are actually doing.
“I was expecting to go on a construction site and just help the people who work there” said Keegan. Walt adds, “There’s more independence. They’re not just running buckets,” and Keegan agrees. He says, “Yeah we’re actually learning”.
With the guidance and supervision of our construction manager, Noel Baker, they have been a great resource on our Hixson Avenue build site. A few projects they have worked on include clearing overgrown weeds, building sheds for the houses, cutting/building interior walls, clearing snow, and using tools to repurpose materials.
“The students have just been fantastic,” says Noel. “Even when I call them saying I don’t have anything to build, but I could use help moving or clearing things, they say they will be there and they show up and they are ALWAYS happy to help.” And the students like helping out on site. Skariwate Papineau, a junior, says “Every time we come here, it’s always fun.”
Having a solid group of motivated, hard-working students that come on a consistent basis has been a huge blessing. We are thankful for this group and the hard work they put in.