Photo by Jeylin White
Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley shakes hands with students and teachers during a ceremony held Monday for the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity home-renovation project.
Students and teachers from Lovejoy, Mt. Zion, Jonesboro and Forest Park high schools have again rolled up their sleeves, and put on their hard hats and boots to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity renovate a local house. This time, at 6044 Prestige Valley Road, in Morrow.
The project kicked off Monday morning, and will continue through Friday, according to Jeff Price, a construction teacher at Lovejoy High. During the opening day, a ceremony was held in which Clayton County School Superintendent Edmond Heatley, his administrative team, Board of Education Chairperson Pam Adams, Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, and representatives from Habitat for Humanity, stopped by to welcome the students.
“This project is a great opportunity to give students a real-world experience,” said Heatley. “It also gives students an opportunity to give back to the community, which is why the district supports this project.”
Price said six to seven students from each of the schools’ construction classes were selected to participate in the building assignment, totaling 25 students. “Only the students who show interest and will pursue this as a career are selected to do the assignment,” he said. He added that Lovejoy, Mt. Zion, Jonesboro, and Forest Park, are the only schools in the district with full-time construction programs.
The incentive for students is the hands-on experience, he said. “You can’t imitate what [students] are learning [on site], in the classroom,” said Price. “Plus, [students] are volunteering and helping other people ... using their skills for an actual project, versus a simulation in the classroom.”
Jeff Hill, construction teacher at Mt. Zion High, agreed, saying this is a good opportunity for students to get a taste of what happens outside a classroom setting. “They put forth a lot of effort,” he said. “I wish we had more time, because this is just something [students] can’t get in the classroom.”
Though most of the selected students were male, Kimberly Gomez, 16, a student at Lovejoy High, said this is her second time volunteering. Gomez also volunteered for the fall Habitat build. “It feels good,” said the shy teenager. “My dad does construction, and it was my brother who got me interested.”
Gomez said she does not think she will pursue a career in construction, however, but was happy she could use the skills she has learned in Price’s class to give something back to the community.
“We know how to [do the work], and we’re prepared to do it,” she said. Smiling from ear to ear, she said being a girl and handling power tools has given her new-found confidence, and she believes she can accomplish anything in the future.
“I’m not sure what I want to do,” she said, “but I know, with the skills I have learned in construction, it will make me more independent. She added that she has gained “bragging rights,” and can confidently say she knows how to build a house.
Nineteen-year-old Daniel Badillo, also a student at Lovejoy High, said he wasn’t intimidated at all that there were females working alongside the guys. “I think it’s cool,” said Badillo. “It shows that girls can do whatever guys can do, and better.” “If I had a girlfriend, who could do construction, I would be really impressed.”
Badillo said this is his fourth time volunteering for a build, and each time has been a rewarding experience. “I’m interested in construction. It’s something I have always wanted to do,” he said. “This project has allowed me to get all the hands-on experience that I cannot get in the classroom. We can read how something is done in our books one way, but when were actually working on a real house, you find out it’s done totally different.”
Lovejoy’s Price added that he has been associated with Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity since 2003, and this will be the second home the students have renovated this year. “We [renovate a home] every October and every April,” he said, “so, we’ve [done two homes] a year for the last 8 years.”
Lindsay Sanders, development coordinator for Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, said the home students and teachers are working on was donated to Clayton County’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), by a “generous supporter,” who did not want to be identified.
She added that her organization’s mission is to take modest-income families and put them in homes. In the past, she said, the organization would build the homes from the ground up, but for the past two years, through NSP, foreclosed homes are renovated, instead. “This is a way to revitalize the neighborhood,” said Sanders.
She said students will replace the cabinets, remove rotten wood, inside and outside the home, replace the carpet, landscape, paint the interior and exterior, replace doors, and rebuild the garage.
Sanders said their is not an estimated time for when the home will be completed. However, Price said his students will have no problem getting the bulk of the work done. “It’s amazing what these students can accomplish in a week, from 8 a.m., to 2 p.m.,” he said. “We usually get done more than they think we can.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity programs, can visit the web site at: www.schabitat.org.