While most students associate the end of the school year with studying for exams, cleaning out lockers, and longing for summer, a group of Grand Rapids Public Schools students were celebrating a project that took the entire school year to complete.
Juniors and seniors at GRPS’ Academy for Design and Construction (ADC) spent the 2017-2018 school year partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to build a new LEED-certified home. More than 200 GRPS ADC students have partnered with Habitat Kent over the last 12 years, and this is the eleventh house they’ve built.
From framing in the humid days of late September to installing windows in the bitter cold of January, students had to learn how to work together to overcome obstacles with support from Habitat Kent staff and ADC instructors.
“We’re like a family because we built this,” said ADC student, Alex, at the end-of-year celebration inside the family room of the new house.
“It took a lot of hard work and teamwork.”
Students learn valuable hands-on construction skills as well as knowledge of energy-efficient home building techniques and materials. But the most valuable part of the program is that the students help a homebuyer build a safe, stable, and affordable home.
Cassandra, the homebuyer, applied for Habitat’s homeownership program because she had a need for housing, the ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. She’s been able to meet and watch the students work on her new home this past year.
“I think it’s really important that [the students] learn how to build a house for their [own home] when they grow older and also if they work in the construction trade.”
Cassandra is working hard to wrap up her sweat equity hours, which include construction of her home and other Habitat homes, financial courses, and homeownership training. She hopes to move into her new home by the beginning of the new school year.
Every single task students completed, every single hour they spent on this house is going to make a lasting impact for Cassandra and her family, and even their own future. To close the celebration, Alex perfectly summed up what the program is all about.
“[This house] was built with love.”