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The House that Career and Technical Education Students Built

It all began on a hot summer day, on August 21, 2012, when twenty high school students in Alpine School District met on an empty lot in Lehi, Utah. It was the first day of class and the beginning of a project each student would never forget. This was the day they would start building a house from the ground up. The project continued throughout the school year with students working in the heat and the cold. Students participating in this project are part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Skilled and Technical Sciences (STS) program. Kris Johnson, the project manager and an STS teacher, tells UtahCTE.org about the project.

Question: How many schools in Alpine School District are involved in this building project?
Answer: There are two construction programs in Alpine School District. The schools that attend my project are American Fork, Lehi, Lone Peak and Westlake High Schools.

Question: Would you explain the step-by-step process of building the house?
Answer: It all began in August with the excavation for the house. We use a typical construction schedule which means everything under the drywall needs to be done by the end of the calendar year so we can have a four-way inspection the first of January. The last half of the school year is finalizing the finish materials including: drywall, hand rails, finish carpentry, exterior concrete, shingles, painting, tile, cabinets and counter tops.

Question: How does each class begin?
Answer: At the beginning of each class, we spend twenty minutes talking about what we are going to do and the rest of the class time is spent working on that task.

Question: How are assignments given to each student?
Answer: In the beginning, we work as a team through framing the house and then areas are assigned to each student. Students are then responsible for the area in which they have been assigned. This is how we have accountability and I know by looking at the different areas if I was clear in my expectations.

Question: How did students obtain the materials to build the house?
Answer: The suppliers bid from our drawings like any other job. And then some suppliers go the extra mile by coming to the school and sharing their expertise with the students.

Question: What have been the challenges this year?
Answer: This year we are building a house with materials “Made in America”. This has limited our selection and slightly increased the cost of the house, but it has been a great learning experience.

Question: Who does the interior of the house?
Answer: The interior design classes from the four high schools take turns choosing the colors and making design decisions. Last year it was American Fork High School and this year it is Lehi High School. They do a great job and we appreciate their attention to detail.

Question: Who does the landscaping?
Answer: The landscaping will be left up to the buyer.

Question: What is the involvement of other CTE classes?
Answer: In years past; the sewing class has made drapes, the cabinet class has built cabinets, the business class has made brochures for the open house, the landscape class has landscaped it, and the art class has painted murals on the walls. This year we only have the cabinet, drafting, and interior design classes involved.

Kris told UtahCTE.org about a secret feature in the house, “We built a secret storage closet where no one knows how to get to it except the home owner and a few hundred high school students and their friends.”

The house is located at 640 West North Lake Drive in Lehi, Utah and has already been sold. The proceeds will go to Alpine School District. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place on May 16. Visit Mr. Johnson’s Building Construction Class to view a series of photos showing the progression of the house.

Photo courtesy of James Roh, Daily Herald

There are several homes being built throughout the state by students under the supervision of qualified instructors. These projects provide great learning experiences for students, provide them real skills in the world of construction, and these experiences allows the students to grow through extending their education to our Applied Technology Centers (ATCs), community colleges, or university programs.

If you’re interested in being involved in a similar project at your high school contact your school counselor about registering for a Skilled and Technical Sciences (STS) class. Participating in one of the following STS Career Pathways will give you the hands-on experience to advance to a well-paying career in the building industry.

Carpentry                      Electrician                      HVAC                      Plumbing

Related story:
High school students build all-American house

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