Kinzie Baad wanted to be sure she knew how to fix things around the house when she gets her first place.
However, Howell High School senior said the real reason she joined the Construction Trade Program is because she’s interested in interior design.
“Knowing the structure of how to build a house and what goes into will help with that,” Baad said.
Baad is one of 60 high school students countywide that have been building a house as part of the Construction Trade Program run through Howell High School.
For eight years now, contractors have worked and mentored high school juniors and seniors on the process of building a house.
The two-hour block period provides the students a “real-life” experience and a look into several career options.
“A lot of the students will already have their credits needed to graduate completed, so a lot of the students will stay three-four-five hours a day just to gain the experience and because they enjoy it,” said Mark Leahy, Construction Trade Program instructor. “The job site is their classroom and when we first started the site was nothing by forest.”
The plan is to have the house complete by the end of May.
The students are putting tiles down, working on the infrastructure and grouting the rock bricks around the outside of the house.
Students from Howell, Pinckney, Hartland, Fowlerville, Brighton and Whitmore Lake high schools make up the class.
This year the class has 11 females – the largest amount the class has ever seen.
“It’s great to have this mixture,” Leahy said.
The Howell Education Foundation funds the program. Each year when the house sells, that money goes directly back into the account that funds the program as well as other programs, such as the Reaching Higher Program and grants.
“We just recycle the money that we make,” Cortez said. “If it weren’t for Leahy, that program wouldn’t be as successful as it is. He really connects with the kids.”
Leahy loves seeing the kids get jobs and walk out with the skills they need to move forward.
“Kids will walk in here and not even know how to hold a hammer,” Leahy said. “They get to learn about the different careers involved with building a house – electrical, construction, interior design – and learn about safety procedures and working as a team.”
Jamie Gimson, a Whitmore Lake High School senior, said everyone has become a family.
“I came in half way through my senior year so it was nice that everyone is so welcoming and we are just one big family,” Gimson said.
Gimson originally wanted to go into law enforcement before she joined the program and now is interested in a construction or interior design as a possible career path.
“Some kids may not know what they want to do and this can give them a better idea of that,” Gimson said.
Leahy said those interested in the program should reach out to their high school counselor or Livingston Education Service Agency.
“It’s a great program with lots of hands on experience for everyone to take part in,” Leahy said, who also noted that even though it’s a two-year program you can join whenever.
Contact Livingston Daily education reporter Abby Welsh at 517-552-2848 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @abby_welshLD.