Student-built Habitat house teaches job skills

It’s always nice to read about CMS students’ achievements and the positive work they are doing within the community. Read about the Habitat house built by Olympic High School students and watch a video here.

By Bobby Sisk
The Charlotte Observer
March 20, 2011

From foundation to frame, the newest house on Granby Circle in southwest Charlotte’s Yorkmount neighborhood was built by teenagers from Olympic High School.

“It is a gratifying feeling to see it finally over here,” said senior Josiah Colvin.

The students built the three-bedroom, two-bath home in the parking lot at Olympic. Last week, it moved to the neighborhood.

“Thinking of all the work that I and my classmates put in … makes me feel successful,” said sophomore Maceo Rucker-Shivers.

“The biggest hope is what we call 21st-century skills where kids are going to be able to develop things that stay with them for a lifetime. They’re working with teams and communicating and collaborating,” said Mike Realon, Olympic’s career development coordinator who oversaw the project.

This is his school’s third Habitat for Humanity build. Since it started, he says test scores of students involved are up 100 percent. And after school, he thinks it gives the students skills they can use to land a job. Colvin has another career path in mind, but isn’t ruling out using his carpentry skills in the meantime.

It is proof, Realon thinks, that project-based learning like this translates with young people. “Take what you’re learning in your business class, come and apply it. Those ideas really work,” he said.

It’s a collaboration of more than 100 teenagers in all. Some build while others work to raise the $70,000 needed to buy construction materials.

On Wednesday, crews lowered the house that Colvin and Rucker-Shivers worked on for months onto its new foundation. “I was thinking about the disaster in Japan and how those people lost their home and … that I was able to take part in helping a family get their home, it is really deep. I enjoyed it,” Rucker-Shivers said, looking up at the house.

Habitat staff worked with the students, teaching them carpentry skills along the way. Site supervisor Ashley Meissner of Habitat for Humanity says the teens have learned a lot, “from not knowing anything and maybe not being super invested in the project to being out there and now seeing them excited about it, it’s great.”

The fact that the house will be a family’s first home means a lot to Colvin.

“It feels really great to give to the community and those less fortunate than us,” he said.

Habitat will now work to select a family for the house while Realon and his Olympic students work to fund next year’s build.

“I think it is very emotional for the kids and the teachers to know that we’ve done something of such high magnitude,” Realon said.

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