Mt. Pleasant High School students learn more than just construction skills on site

By Morrgan Bouler, Mt. Pleasant News Intern


Mt. Pleasant High School seniors are currently building a house from the ground up, while gaining some valuable skills along the way.

Dressed in sweatshirts, hats, and gloves to combat the winter cold, nine seniors are getting a bird?s-eye view of a small suburban neighborhood as they work on the roof of 1812 S. Meadowview Ave. As they work, echoes from their tools bounce around in the hollow interior of the unfinished, future home. Students not on the roof walk along the makeshift, plywood sidewalk, avoiding mud to grab more equipment from a trailer. Every school day from noon to 3:15 p.m., weather permitting, the block is filled with the sounds of young hands at work.

?I mainly did it (this class) because I love working with my hands,? said senior Joey Coberley.

The school?s building trades program stemmed from a local, nonprofit program called McGwinder. The organization was started in 1982 by Larry Brunheizer, according to Colby Newman, the building trades instructor at the high school. This is the fifth house Colby Newman has worked on as the program instructor.

?At that point, some of the local businesses (realtor companies, construction companies) had seen a need for teaching students these skilled trades so that our town would have a good pool of employees to draw from so that we could continue to grow as a community and build homes and build businesses,? informed Newman, who teaches the Building Trades program at the high school.

?Construction is kind of a dying skill-not many people know how to do it. People would rather hire someone than learn how to do it themselves and save thousands as a result,? said Mt. Pleasant senior Dalton Smith.

However, students are learning more than just how to build a house. They are also learning valuable skills that will carry through in their future career paths. The Building Trades program is also part of a concurrent enrollment program with Southeastern Community College, so the seniors will receive college credit for their work, which will carry over if they decide to take their next step of education at SCC. McGwinder also provides a $1,000 scholarship to the seniors participating. Students deciding to head into the workforce after graduation will instead receive a $1,000 tool grant to pay for equipment they will need for their apprenticeship or job.

?Usually, it is for students that are going into a construction related field. They?ve kind of loosened that a bit. For example, as long as a student participates in the program, but goes to college to become a diesel mechanic, they will still receive the scholarship,? said Newman.

In order for students to qualify for the program, there are a number of prerequisites. They have to complete three woods classes and a construction tech course. While it is preferred for students to take electricity, it is not a requirement. Newman also plans to have them come in on weekends to get more done.

?Teamwork is how we thrive and make progress. I?m honestly going to be going to college for construction technology management, so it?s kind of a big deal,? said Coberly, who plans on going to SCC after graduation.

?Even if you?re not going to build a house, it still is good to know how to run all of the tools, because even if you just needed to fix something little, you already know what you?re doing,? said senior Dalon VanBroen.

?I hope that they will have a good foundation for carpentry and leadership skills. So that they can be strong, contributing employees wherever they go,? said Newman. ?I hope that I?ve given them some of that work ethic, good communication, and leadership, and demonstrated how important that is when you?re trying to complete a big task.?