Clayton students help build 'Habitat' home

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Twenty Clayton County high school construction students are raising the roof on their education this week.

The youths, who spend most of the year in classrooms, doing small building projects, are helping build a house in Jonesboro, for Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity. This is the seventh year that construction students from the county's high schools helped build a Habitat house, said Lovejoy High School Construction Teacher Price Jacobs.

"We do it for the experience," said Jacobs, who oversees the high school Habitat building project. "The students get hands-on experience here that they can't get in the classroom. They aren't able to build a house at school."

He said the project is also designed to get the students involved with a community service project. "They are learning, but to have them do something that helps another person is the biggest payback for me," he said.

There are construction students from four high schools working on the house, which is located on Dunivin Drive, in Jonesboro. The students come from Forest Park, Jonesboro, Lovejoy, and Morrow high schools, Price said.

The students spent much of their time, on Wednesday, installing roof trusses, and putting together the walls for the garage. Earlier in the week, they helped put up exterior walls on the rest of the house, and the frames for the interior walls, according to the construction teachers from the various participating schools.

Morrow High School Construction Teacher Nicole Taylor said that the Habitat for Humanity activity helps students develop skills they will need later on, in the construction field. She said students are picked to participate in the activity, based on their leadership and teamwork skills, and whether they want to work in the construction industry after high school, or college.

"Even though we do build some things in class, it's on a larger scale here," she said. "It allows them to learn about working as a team, working with people they don't know, communicating with people they don't know, and being able to take instructions from someone else. It prepares them to be in the working force."

Some of the students participating in the home build said this activity has helped them understand exactly what they are reading in their textbooks, because they have had a chance to see it in person.

Morrow junior, Adam Martinez, 17, said that participating in the project — now for his second time — has helped him learn "basically everything about building a house."

Students said getting out of the classroom for a week, and working on building a house, help their education, because they experience, in a "trial by fire"-type format, some of the details that are involved in building a home.

"When we put the walls up, it taught me about reading blueprints," said Forest Park junior, Alejandro Cortez, 17. "I didn't know it mattered where you put a segment of the walls when you line them up. I kinda have an idea of how to read the blueprints now."

Lovejoy junior, Emmett Henry, 16, explained that he liked the community service side of the project because "we're helping build a home for a family who has less than others."

The students are not just building a home for some anonymous person, either. The homeowner-to-be, McDonough resident, Tesa Dixon, 28, has been working, side-by-side, with them, to build the home.

"I think it's a good challenge for them, because it helps them become young men in the future, to experience real life," she said. She later added, "It's great. It's wonderful. It's good for their schools to let them come out, and help families in need."

Dixon said it has been exciting for her, and her family, to see her future home take shape. The mother of three said this will be the first home she has ever owned. Her children, ages 9, 7 and 6, are so happy about the house being built, that they want to come help build the house, too, she said.

"My kids are really excited," she said. "I've been showing them pictures of the students building the house every day, and they are ready to come see the home for themselves."