HS students building home in SL, while earning college credit
There is a new house going up in Storm Lake; students from Storm Lake High School are the builders.
For the past nearly two decades, students from SLHS have had the opportunity to participate in the League of Schools which provide students with exposure through hands-on training in house building (and other areas) at no cost to them. Instructors are provided by Iowa Central Community College and high school credit as well as college credit is given those students completing the courses.
Also in the past the houses have been built in Alta, 17 of them in fact, and students from area schools have taken part. The program has gone through some changes, with the retirement of long-time instructor Kim Piercy. It was thought that the program might end, but thanks to BB Development (Jim Brown and Steve Brashears) the program is continuing and Storm Lake will benefit.
Brown is the instructor for the course which has 28 SLHS students taking part.
BB Development has provided project specifications, drawings and blueprints, building permits and the lot. BB also provides all of the materials and when complete, will sell the home.
The plan for the home, located at 701 Prairie View Lane in West Lake Estates contains 1,800 square feet of space. There is a large master bedroom and bath, large dining/kitchen area, cathedral ceiling, backyard deck, three-car garage and will eventually have a low maintenance exterior.
Students are divided into a morning group and an afternoon group; each group works three hours at the construction site and Brown is pleased with the students.
"They are all good workers," he said. "Everyone works good together and they are fun to be around."
The project is ahead of schedule at this point. Rafters were being put on Friday and it is hoped that the roof will be on by the end of October. Inside work will follow.
A crane could have been brought in to put the rafters on, he said, but having the students do it gives them a new experience as well as gives them a feeling of additional ownership in the project.
Several of the participants in the project took part last year. Those students have had the opportunity, then, to work on a duplex in Alta and now a large house with many different features such as the cathedral ceiling.
One of those students, Michael Rebollozo, a senior, said having the opportunity to take part in the building and trades course has solidified his decision to continue the course at ICCC in Fort Dodge after he graduates.
He has helped uncles with roofing projects and concrete and plumbing work. He enjoys the process of seeing the construction progress from an empty lot to a completed project.
"This is a good opportunity for us," the student said, saying even for those students that may not make carpentry a career, the course teaches things that can be used when repairs or additions are needed on their own homes in the future. "I hope they can keep the class going."
Those second-year students have taken the first-year students under their wings and helped them become acclimated to the necessary skills.
The course is open to all students - male or female. There have only been a handful of girls and this year has one. Shelby Myott, a junior, is "interested in different things." Last year she took part in a construction and tech class which allowed participants to build sheds for UBC. She liked it so decided to further that experience.
"I told these guys at the beginning not to treat me different just cause I'm a girl," she said. "I do what I can, which is most everything. It's a hard job." She laughed saying that she can handle a hammer pretty well, much to the surprise of the guys.
The students' abilities are becoming known in the community; several have been hired to help with area building projects, including a hog building near Early. The trust, from other "bosses", boosts their confidence and builds their experience.
There is constant commentary, with Brown answering questions constantly, and a variety of things going on at all times. A plan is made each night, and instructions on what needs to be done each day are shared with the students when they arrive.
"Everyone stays focused," Brown said, adding safety is always an issue. The work site is not run like a classroom but as a professional construction site. The new instructor said he has been dabbling in construction as a "hobby" for the past 30 years. He has built some homes and completed additions over that time.
His two loves in life, he said, are construction work and kids. "When this opportunity came up, it was natural for me. I love being around kids who are high school age. I'm having a blast. It's good to get up in the morning and come to work."
In the past, the houses constructed by the building and trades students have been completed by the end of the school year. That same schedule will be followed this year.