Constructing a Future

(Beloit, WI) Whitney Helm, Beloit Daily News

Students at Beloit Memorial High School are not only building their first house, but gaining skills they’ll need for life, according to Ryan Rewey, advanced career education director for the School District of Beloit.

The first house for the district’s Student House Build Program, located at 321 Ridgeland Ave., was donated to the school by the city.

The program has been a dreamchild of Rewey, who was an on-site teacher for the Janesville’s program.

“One of my goals was to get a student house going,” Rewey said. “Especially with the skilled trades gap, and student with construction, it provides a chance for kids to learn skills in high school that can transfer to a job beyond high school.”

Zach Bahr, Tyler Garretson and Kyle Otto, students in the 15-member class, said they want to pursue a career in construction after high school.

“It can be a challenge, but I like building,” Otto said.

The house is the final class in a four-class series at the high school. Students began with site safety instruction and an introduction to tools in the first class. Lessons gradually progress.

The students have the help of local companies Corporate Contractors Inc., who donated $50,000 that will go towards footing, foundation and framing materials. The company also demolished the Ridgeland property and completed the site excavation.

“CCI is thrilled for the opportunity to support the innovative House Build Program,” said President Brad Austin, in an emailed press release.

Rewey said that the project is estimated to cost $75-80,000, with most of the cost covered by the CCI donation. He said next year the program will have 24 students, one group scheduled for the morning and another working during the afternoon. Rewey said that both the Ridgeland property and the property that students will work on next year, are donated due to fire damage.

“We really want to revitalize our city from the inside and we’d like to have our students help do that,” Rewey said.

The project will have to comply with all Wisconsin building codes and students will have their work checked by local professionals including Schuh Plumbing, Quigley Smart HVAC and Amp Electric.

The house will be sold and any profits will be used for next year’s materials. Rewey said that eventually the school would like to offer an apprenticeship to students who would like to pursue a career in construction.