AAPS: Student homebuilders break ground on iconic program’s 50th house

Story, photo and video by Jo Mathis / AAPS

Team 50 is raring to go on the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program‘s 50th house.

And the hope is that the trend continues from last year—when the student-built house sold for a record-breaking $460,000—more than any other high school building program in the state, and a testimony to the program’s solid reputation.

Dozens of people—including former students, former teachers and board members—were on hand last week as ground was broken at  304 Sedgewood in Scio Township. The students expect to have the home built by Aug. 1.

Attending the groundbreaking was John Binder, owner of  J.F. Binder Custom Framing in Ann Arbor, who was a student in the program 40 years ago and has been involved in one way or another ever since.

He’s a longtime board member, and employees four former students of the program.  In addiition, his two brothers also went through the program and are also both in the construction business.

“The program just opened that door for me, and 42 years later I am still involved in construction and involved with the homebuilding program,” he said.

Karen Eisley,  the district’s Career and Technical Education coordinator, said she often receives testimonials from parents and students that if it weren’t for Homebuilding,  the student may not have finished high school.

Grant Welch noted that he was not a traditional student. Luckily, he discovered the program, did well,  graduated and went to work for a local contractor.

Three years ago he was asked to return as a paraeducator to the program.

The crowd welcomes Tom Lancaster, former instructor.

He didn’t hesitate to take the job.

“I was like, `Absolutely! This program gave me so much, I’d like to give back to it  some way,’” he said. “Now I’ve changed career paths and I’m going back to school to become a teacher to take over the program one day.”

The program is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the state of Michigan. It became when a group of members from the Home Builder’s Association partnered with AAPS to create a homebuilding course.

Community High School senior Julian Ascani, winner of the state’s carpentry competition and ninth in the country,  is eager to begin his second year of homebuilding.

“I’ve loved everything about this program,” he said, noting the wide range of skills he’s learned. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”