Home work

Technical high school students construct houses

Technical high school students construct houses

November 27, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT - Like most other high school seniors, Atalaya Taylor heads to school each morning. But unlike her peers, she leaves Washington County Technical High School and goes to a construction site.

Atalaya, 17, is working with her classmates in carpentry and electrical construction to build a house. It is the second she has built through the program at the technical high school.

It is the 18th home being built by students at the high school. The house on Custer Court in Williamsport is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom rancher with a two-car garage. The house measures 1,776 square feet with baseboard heat and central air conditioning.

Students work on every aspect of the home, and proceeds from the sale go back into construction for a house to be built the following year, said Greg Dietrich, resource teacher and project coordinator for the Student Trades Foundation.


Outside walls were constructed early in the school year at the high school and taken to the job site. Putting those walls in place was the first step, Dietrich said. Then carpentry students worked on setting the trusses, which are the framework that supports the roof, and sheeting the roof.

The home that students built last year is on the same street as this year's house, and was on the market only two days before it was sold, he said.

"It's a wonderful feeling to know someone lives in a house you built," said Atalaya, as she put a 28-ounce hammer back in her tool belt.

Like many of her classmates at the job site, she said she would like to continue to work in the construction field after high school.

"I want to build houses," she said. "I do have a really good time."

Andrew Beach, 18, a senior, is in the electrical construction class and said he was helping with carpentry work because most of the other students were out of class on work release.

"I'm basically learning right now," he said.

Electrical construction students were expected to begin wiring the house soon, including doing work on the service box and baseboard heat.

Andrew said he was looking forward to seeing the house after it is completed in June 2007. But standing in an area near what will be the house's kitchen, he said it was still hard to picture what it will become.

Kevin Kopyta, 17, a senior in the carpentry class, said he worked on last year's house, too.

"It's pretty much the same house as last year," he said, "except there's no bay window."

Kevin said he was balancing his work on the house on Custer Court with work after school for a home improvement company.

Kevin and Atalaya both said framing the house, which is putting up the exterior walls, is the best part. It's fast and easy, he said.

Once the interior of the house is complete, students will install light fixtures and receptacle plates. Students also install pole lights and exterior light fixtures, Dietrich said.

The carpentry students then move to the exterior of the house, where they construct the deck. They also put in a sidewalk in front of the home.

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