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SMALL STEPS, BIG FUTURE Carpentry students work hard on constructing tiny house behind the K-Building. (Picture Courtesy of David Fredericks)

By Trevor Glassey

Our Construction Technology Class (Carpentry) is currently building a tiny house in the fenced area behind the K-Building, and plans to start work on a second.  According to Construction Technology teacher David Fredericks, the leader of the five teachers in the project, this is part of a new curriculum emphasizing construction.

“We redesigned the curriculum to be construction based because that’s where the need is in the industry,” asserts Mr. Fredericks.  “The skills these guys are learning coming out of high school will start at $30 an hour in a union apprenticeship.”

Starting back in September, this change to the curriculum is quite significant as the project regularly pulls in many students after school every weekday to work on the project. The first tiny house is projected to take most of the school year to finish.

According to senior Andrew Giluso, they often stay until six or seven working on it.  The time is primarily being spent to finish the first house, but while waiting for pre-assembled parts like windows. They have started the second house.  The students learn about construction on a small scale, within a school year, as they have to craft the purchased materials into usable parts, put together the house and add the essentials of plumbing and electricity.

This project is part of the CTE (Career and Technical Education) program which aims to teach students real life applicable skills.  The four main departments of Social Sciences, English, Math, and Science are represented respectively by history teacher Joshua Berry, English teacher Ryan Lundell, math teacher Richard De La Rosa and science teacher Jonathan Montoya, who each believe in the project’s goal to see students well-rounded. They give them many opportunities and work to keep students in the program doing well in their other classes.  Most students in the program end up with even better grades after joining the program.

“(The program) opened my eyes to different opportunities,” explains senior Rafael Rodriguez. “I have more options.”

In today’s world, the idea of having to go to a four-year college is becoming increasingly prevalent.  However, the CTE program tries to show that there are other perfectly valid ways of life.

The monetary cost is lowered due to funding from Economy Lumber, whom the department gets its tools and supplies from.  As it turns out, this project was suggested by Director Tim Nguyen to both Piedmont Hills and Independence High School, who started their house back in spring.

“We expressed interest, and we have a buddy over at Independence, Jeremiah Ellison, building one as well,” answers Mr. Fredericks when asked about the start of the sponsorship.

This tiny house is part of a new housing trend showcased by a show called Tiny House Nation that is about people downsizing to these tiny houses to limit environmental footprint.  These tiny houses could also serve a not-so-tiny role in combating California’s large and growing housing crisis.  While Mr. Fredericks doesn’t know where the houses are going right now, he predicts it will end up either sold or donated. Whatever their fate, the tiny houses are likely to make a big difference for both the students working on them and California as whole.

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