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Students tackle real home work
NEW MADRID, Mo. -- It was a job the students learned from the ground up, literally. Now their work goes on the auction block.
But before it does, you can bet the 18 members of the Building Trades Class at the New Madrid County Technical Skills Center will take one last look at their year's work during an open house set for 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday for the home they built at 961 St. Francis in the St. Rose Subdivision.
The 1,884-square-foot house with its 464-square-foot garage is a source of pride for school personnel.
Bob Pulliam, director of the technical center, said that while students have built houses in the past in the school's program, this is the first house of this size. Also the students completed much of the work during the 2001-02 school year.
"This way the kids went from the plumbing to the roof and all the finish work," Pulliam said. "We are proud they get that experience."
Pulliam also takes pride in that the project was overseen by a former student of the technical center's program, Tim Winchester of Gideon, Mo.
"He was an outstanding student and he is an outstanding teacher," Pulliam added.
A 1982 graduate of Gideon High School, Winchester recalls the classes he had through the center.
That experience, he said, is part of what he has incorporated into the classes he teaches along with what he experienced when he operated his own construction company.
Two years ago when he saw the advertisement in the newspaper seeking a building trades instructor, Winchester said he decided to give it a try. It would give him an opportunity to work with kids, which he said he enjoys, while sharing his knowledge about his profession.
Digging the foundation
While the school year began with some classroom work and in particular safety training, the students soon found themselves out of the classroom and on the job site. Students dug the foundation, poured the concrete and laid the blocks.
There were framing techniques to learn along with plumbing and roofing.
When the exterior was complete, the work moved inside and included learning how to install insulation, wiring, sheet rock, a wood floor and creating custom cabinets.
"Mr. Rooker was my instructor," recalled Winchester about his days as a commuting student from Gideon to the center. "He taught me a lot of things that were valuable in my career and that is what I want to do. I want to prepare these kids for the working world. They need to know what to expect when they get on the job."
That means while the students did all the work, Winchester was right behind them, checking details.
Students worked in groups, with a student leader, reviewing the details of their job before beginning the task, asking questions and learning techniques before the first board was cut or nail hammered in.
According to their instructor, the roof presented the greatest challenge to his students.
"Some of these guys haven't been off the ground a lot," he said with a grin. "This is a pretty steep roof and there were some safety issues to deal with, but these guys did a great job."
While the roof was a challenge, Dustin Skinner said the framing was his favorite part. A member of the Class of 2002 and named the Outstanding Student for the Building Trades Class, Skinner explained there was "nothing I didn't like but the framing, there was just more involved to it, more cutting." He said he plans to take what he has learned into the work place and look for a job involving carpentry.
Skinner also is recommending the class to his friends.
The Building Trades Class enabled him to put the skills he learned in other classes to use.