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Olathe North High School students build tiny home for local veteran

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Posted at 4:45 PM, May 18, 2023

OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe North High School teamed up with a nonprofit to help a local veteran.

Students in the “Geometry in Construction” class applied what they learned and built him a tiny home.

David Childress is a veteran of the 82nd airborne division. He has been living out of his van for the last five years.

The project to build his home was made possible through a partnership with Mattersville, a nonprofit that works with veterans dealing with PTSD and homelessness.

“Definitely a lot more pressure than any other projects we had to do or anything we did in class, cause if one thing went wrong, we probably couldn’t build a house. And then it would like disappoint Dave, who we’re building it for. So it was like really heavy on our minds,” said Baylie Stith, a sophomore at Olathe North. “It was a lot of fun when we got everything done and we actually got to go to Topeka. It was satisfying to see all our work there.”

The students will receive a full credit in geometry and knowledge of various tools in construction.

Standardized test results have already shown over the last four years that students who take the course retain information longer and score higher.

But above all else, teachers Jeremiah Baer and Michael Wagner hope it is a skill set, and a mindset, they will carry for the rest of their lives.

“Where they are giving back to the community,” Wagner said. “Hopefully supplies will come through and we can build another house next year and hopefully the next.”

Baer also said he saw an intrinsic motivation in the students he has never seen before.

“They had real person on the other end of this, and so the kids were actually discussing on several occasions with themselves that we have to learn this material because Dave is counting on us," Baer said. "And so there was a real motivation there that was much bigger than just myself or this project or this task they’re working on."

For Baylie Stith, the project has felt full circle as her grandparents were veterans themselves. She saw them struggle first-hand upon returning home

“It kind of feels like in a way, I’m helping my grandma and grandpa — living up to their names,” Stith said. “My grandpa passed away a while ago, so it’s kinda like connecting with him in a way.”