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CATE students work with hands-on project

Garrett Dearing and Austin Jenkins work on the house project. Each year the students in the journalism program at PHS finish the course by writing press releases. The class partners with the Princeton Herald to publish the stories. These are also featured on the district website under Latest Headlines. This article is written by Alyssa Rivera.

CATE students in the construction trades program get a true hands-on experience, and they have a finished house to prove it.

Roofing, plumbing and electrical work are only the foundation of the advanced construction class offered at the high school. Students take this class to prepare them for their future and build the walls for careers after graduation.

“This class helps us prepare for what we’re going to do after high school,” senior Austin Jenkins said. “It really opens opportunities for the workforce. It helps me understand from start to finish the process of construction.”

Juniors and seniors work on the crafts they want to do later in life, giving them insight on how it will be in the real world.

“I actually want to be an electrician,” senior Garrett Dearing said. “We get not just basic, but advanced training for our trades.”  

Although the class has an adult instructor, the process is very hands-on for the students, who take on tasks independently.

“We do a lot of the work ourselves,” Dearing said. “Our instructor helps and assists us in certain difficult tasks.”

The house was not the only thing being built in this class, as friendships between students were created also.

The third house already has a buyer. “We spend an entire year working on this together, so it's not hard to get to know each other,” Dearing said. “My best memory of construction trades this year is participating in Skills USA. We got to spend time with three other classmates, hang out and bounce ideas off each other.”

This marks the third house the high school CATE program has built and sold, with this year’s project selling for $30,000. The instructor, Charles Long, designs the houses.

“I come up with the plan,” Mr. Long said. “I drew it, changed it and added the porch this year. With the second house, we tweaked it and made it more handicap ready. The customers can pick the paint and flooring.”

Keeping all the students on task is one of the obstacles Mr. Long deals with every day.

“It takes a lot of guidance, especially working on the house,” Mr. Long said. “If I leave it totally to them, it could get messed up. The hardest part for me is keeping everybody working all the time. You get so focused on certain aspects of the building process, you can get bogged down on one thing too long.”

Students also face many of the same challenges home builders do, and must adjust for the short class period they are given.

“Dealing with mess ups is the hardest part,” Dearing said. “For wrong cuts and measures, we have to tear down, go back, recut and make sure it’s right. It’s no fun replacing what you put up. We tear down a lot of progress.”

Students work on the ceiling of the house project. This class opens the door to the future for students and helps jump-start their careers.

“It gives us a more in-depth insight on how the building process works,” Dearing said. “This class is the best because we don’t spend too much time in a classroom setting because our training is while we work.”

- Story by Alyssa Rivera