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D49 Construction Program Building Interest for Ambitious Learning Opportunity

On a day in the not too distant future, a local family will hold the keys to a home built entirely by D49 students. 

“I have goosebumps,” said Mary Perez, D49’s director of applied and advanced learning. “We are super excited for D49 students and families.” 

Potential house-build site for D49 Construction Program.

The D49 construction program is in the early stages of developing a home-build project on the grounds of the Falcon Legacy Campus. D49 students enrolled in the Construction 2 class will literally put classroom-based knowledge to work, constructing a 1200 sq ft house for Careers in Construction.

In January, program leaders and district collaborators began looking for a place to start: scouting potential locations to erect a house on the FLC campus. Even more critical in the early stages is finding the core group of students who will lead this project when it’s time to build.  

“Getting students out of the classroom and showing them how to apply some of the math and other skills they’ve learned in an applied setting is going to be very, very inspiring and motivating for students,” Perez said. 

Any D49 high school student can take the class regardless of their home campus. Enrollment begins in February, and although the construction classes are in the high school course catalogue, instructors are encouraging middle school students to think now about adding a construction course to their ninth-grade schedule. 

I would love to see more bodies in the room,” said Jim Baumann, industrial arts teacher at Patriot High School. His students recently built a shed for a classroom project. The chance to build a home, he said, will open new doors for learning. 

“Give it a shot, you never know where your interest might lie,” Baumann said. “Until you come into a program like this, you don’t know the possibilities that are out there and how many different pathways are possible in the construction industry.”

Crucial building blocks for the D49 construction program are partnerships with the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, Careers In Construction in Colorado and Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms, which contributed the cash to build a headquarters for the construction program on the FLC. Located next to Patriot High School, the construction building welcomed learners for the spring semester of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Renee Zentz, chief executive officer of the HBA, explained the collaboration raises interest and awareness for students who can shape their learning pathway to enter the workforce after graduation, which creates a deeper employee pool for industries looking for skilled workers. 

“Everybody looking for good skilled help is not looking for a master; they're looking for a kid that’s confident and interested,” Zentz said.

The construction phase of the home-build would likely start in the fall semester of 2022. D49 planners will use the intervening time to organize, finalizing and prepping the location and answering critical questions to support the project. 

Program directors aim to cultivate the interest of at least 20 more D49 students in early 2021 as the enrollment window opens for the upcoming school year, bumping up the class size to ensure there are enough skilled hands to begin, sustain, and complete construction.    

“We need to invest a year of professional training in our students,” Perez said. “So not only can they be safe on the worksite, they can be effective and productive on the worksite.”

D49 construction students can also earn professional industry certifications in a host of categories as they move through the program, while capturing the experience of building a home from the ground up.

“Nothing is more enlightening than putting a roof over somebody’s head,” Zentz explained. “It's the American dream right? No matter what part of the industry [students choose], they are filling the American dream of homeownership. It’s pretty exciting.” 

If you would like to learn more, see the Career and Technical Education page at www.D49.org - www.d49.org/CareerTech 

David Nancarrow
dnancarrow@d49.org