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Turner High School students build market-ready homes, learn professional industry skills

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 21:19:28-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Turner High School’s Building Trades program is changing the way students approach math and science.

For over 25 years, students have built market-ready homes from an empty lot over the course of two years. The program teaches the ins and outs of construction and industry skills.

Teachers said it also builds character in students as they work alongside professionals.

“We use a big project like this to introduce to our students all different phases of construction," Building Trades teacher Scott Hughes said. “Love seeing my students work hard and enjoying their job, and see everything fall into place, and them understanding why we do certain things.”

The students broke ground on the current project, a 1,440 square feet home with three bedrooms and two baths, in November of 2019. After some setbacks due to the pandemic, the house will be ready for the market in early January. It is estimated to sell around $309,000.

It is one of five homes that have been built through the program on a cul-de-sac in Kansas City, Kansas. The land was acquired by the district several years ago and has become an educational playground.

Senior Carl Rader said the program has given him a sense of clarity about his career path post-graduation.

“It’s going to help me prepare for the future since I am going into the trade in less than a month,” Rader said.

Rader said he wants to go into stone and brick lining. According to Rader, this line of work gives him plenty of opportunities to stay active, and has been an artistic outlet for him.

“It's a lot of — you get to be creative with it,” Rader said. ”I’m not the type to do just sitting in an office. Hands-on learning is what I like to do. And then this just helped me prepare for all that. Helped me get even further into it.”

For fellow senior Manuel Belmonte, the deck he built for the house is more than just a line on his resume. It is a sense of confidence he said he can carry into his job interviews.

“It is very important so other people can take you serious about being a boss. People won't take you seriously if you don’t know what you are doing,” Belmonte said. “I just hope they like it because I put a lot of effort into this, I worked hard for this, and I'm proud of this.”

The home will qualify for the neighborhood revitalization act tax abatement. There is little profit on the house after a sale due to subcontracting and because the house is built as a learning opportunity for students.