WLAA Student Home Builders Series: Moving on up – Students talk about what they like about building a house

WeLoveAnnArbor.com is presenting a series of articles throughout the year on the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program. With the help and support of instructors Mark Valchine and Grant Welch, WeLoveAnnArbor.com will follow the process from start to finish, charting the progress along the way. The Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program is a class of HS students who spend the school year building a house. Divided into two classes (morning and afternoon), two instructors, along with a long list of volunteers and support staff which make up the board of directors called The Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program, help guide the 30 students through the entire process.

The 2019 Home Builders Class has reached new heights – the second floor.

The class turned the page on October and headed upstairs in November in the annual race against the weather and the clock. After building the stairs inside as work progresses “ahead of schedule,” the students are learning, progressing, growing and taking on more responsibility.

Isaias Gonzalez is a senior at Community High School and is in the afternoon class of this year’s Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program. This is his first year with Mark Valchine’s class and he’s loving every minute of it – even the work.

Every “step” of this program is important.

“Today (last month) we worked ladder safety,” he said. “We used the extension ladder and went through the proper and safe way of using them. We also worked on keeping water and moisture outside the house which helps prevent mold.

“I’ve always liked building things. I like it all. I like nailing and cutting and I just enjoy being here and part of this class.”

And while they are building a home, Gonzalez says he feels like he’s home when he is on the work site.

“Yeah, it’s like home to me,” he says. “At the end of the day I can’t wait to get back the next day. And that’s something different for me. I never had a class that I was excited about going to every day.”

It’s not only a class he enjoys but takes very serious – and that’s something special when those two things go together.

“I am going to be in construction in some fashion the rest of my life,” he says. “Right now I’m interested in being an electrician or a construction manager. I like looking over the blueprints and making them come to life.”

Robert Morris is a junior at Huron and he is another student hoping to build his dreams as part of this unique and special class. “I like everything about this class and it’s a lot better than sitting in a classroom,” he says. “The best part is that you get to learn skills you can apply to real life and use forever.”

Adam Abufarha also goes to Huron and the smile on his face and his attentiveness during class is all  you need to know about how he feels about the program.

“I like that it’s hands-on,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun and you learn real skills that you will use in the field. It’s really an amazing program. To get a group of teenagers together and have them build a real house is incredible. I’m just so glad to be a part of it.”

Abufarha, a junior, is a three-sport athlete at Huron and he says the Home Builder’s Class has that same team vibe and feel you get in sports.

“Yeah, it’s definitely like a team and while there might be some disagreements, we are all family and work them out,” says Abufarha, who hopes to get into construction management down the road.