Carpentry Student Awards Day

House 65 Story by Kim Underwood, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

JUNE 1, 2017 – The house that students at the Career Center built for Habit for Humanity is ready to be moved to its permanent home. And, thanks to a gift from local builders, the seniors who worked on it now own the tools that will enable them to build more houses and to work on their own homes. On Wednesday, Ryan Froelich, the Director of Construction for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and representatives of such other organizations as the Homebuilders Association of Winston-Salem, came to the Career Center to thank the seniors in John Christian’s Carpentry III class for the work they have done this school year.

The 12 members of the Carpentry III class are among the 45 Career Center students who built the house under the guidance of Christian and other teachers at the Career Center. The 1,200-square foot house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Once it is moved to its permanent site, the siding will be installed. It’s been a great project, said Principal Chris Nichols. “It gives kids hands-on, real-life experience. They have gotten to practice what they learn.” Plus, it provides a home for a family in the community. Working on the house was an enriching experience for her son Christian, said Kat Kimball. “He loved it,” Kimball said. “This is the one class he comes home every day and talks about. He is going to miss it.” She also praised the teacher. “Mr. Christian has a way of teaching the kids to have fun while learning a skill that will last them for their lives.” The experience also made her son more self-assured, Kimball said. “He is a lot more confident now.”

Student Mateo Rubio said he didn’t have a favorite part of the project. “I liked doing all of it,” Rubio said. Not all of the students taking the class plan to pursue carpentry as a career. JaQuan King is going to Averett University in Danville where he will play football and study to become a physical therapist. For him, taking the carpentry class was a way to acquire skills that will serve him in his personal life. “When I get my own house, I will know what to do,” he said. He thoroughly enjoyed the process of building the house – “pretty much the whole thing was exciting” – and likes knowing that it will be someone’s home. “I feel good because I built the house for someone to actually live in,” King said.

For Evan Osborne, taking the class was an early step in reaching his goal of becoming an architect one day. Knowing how buildings are constructed will serve him as an architect, he said. Plus, the skills will come in handy in his personal life. “I can fix things up around the house,” he said. One thing that Osborne has discovered is that he and math get along just fine as long as the math has a practical application. So he enjoys doing the math associated with construction. When it was time for the formal ceremony, Froelich praised the students for the work they have done. “You guys have done a heck of a job building that house,” he said. “The house looks great. It’s square. Everything is level.” In talking about his personal history learning carpentry – “it was the best thing I ever did” – Froelich made a point similar to Osborne’s about his experience with math. Sitting in a class in high school, math seemed too abstract for him to understand. But once he began using it with carpentry and other tangible applications, he liked math.

The house is going to a single mother with two children, Froelich said, and he invited the students to come to the dedication ceremony in September to meet them. Others on hand talked about their experiences in the world of homebuilding and told the students that people in all aspects of the business – carpentry, cabinet work, granite counters – are hiring these days. In addition to working for Habitat, Froelich serves as president of the Remodelers Council of the Homebuilders Association. The money for the tool belts, which came with such equipment as hammers, screwdrivers, measuring tapes and squares, was raised by members of the council. After the students received their tool belts, the winner of the Lewis and Wanda Wilson Scholarship of the Forsyth County chapter of Professional Women in Building, which is worth $500, was going to be announced.

Ben Hoover, the winner of the scholarship in 1994, now works for RL Riddle Construction, and he was on hand. He spoke about what a great career path the world of construction had proven to be for him and urged the students to seize the opportunities being offered to them. “Take what you’ve got now and keep going,” he said. When Miranda Kempton of Professional Women in Building announced the scholarship winner, Osborne learned that he was the recipient.

After the ceremony, Christian said that he was happy that the school was able to take on the Habitat project and that the students had received the tool belts. “They will be able to go out and make a paycheck,” he said. Student Devin Spindel has already been making money with the skills he has learned from Christian and others. He and a student who was a senior in the program last year started a business called Grand Arbor, and they have taken on such projects as building a deck and building stairs. Spindel has enjoyed working on the Habitat project. Earlier in the school year, he said, they started out with something that was little more than a hole in the ground and now they have a house that will be someone’s home. “It came together fast,” Spindler said. “It feels awesome. I think will try to come out for the ceremony.” It’s great to have the opportunity to learn all these skills for free, he said, and to help someone else in the process. He also appreciates what Christian has done with everyone. “He has done an excellent job,” Spindel said. This is the first house that Career Center students have built for Habitat in a few years. In years past, Career Center students had made houses for Habit for Humanity of Forsyth County. The 2013-14 school year was the last time that happened. When Christian became the carpentry instructor last year, he reintroduced the program. If this house had been built commercially, Froelich said, it might sell for $110,000 or more. Nichols hopes that many of the students can attend the dedication ceremony. “They can see first-hand who they have affected with their work,” Nichols said.

Those on hand at the ceremony included:

Ryan Froelich, Director of Construction and Land Development, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, President of Remodelers Council of Winston-Salem, Chair of Career Technical Education Committee (CTE)

Lee Riddle, RL Riddle Construction, President Homebuilders Association of Winston-Salem (HBAWS)

Ted Baity, Wishon and Carter Builders, First Vice President HBAWS

Karen Holcomb, Custom Wood Products of Rural Hall, Second Vice President HBAWS

Miranda Kempton, Bloomday Granite and Marble, President Professional Women in Building, member of CTE

Ben Hoover, R.L. Riddle Construction, member of Remodelers Council, member of CTE

Justin Draughn, Carpentry Instructor Forsyth Technical Community College, Co-chair CTE

Beverly K. Hayes, Director of Communications & Member Services HBAWS

To read the November 2016 story about the project, go to Habitat House.