After more than 18 months, students at Carroll County High School finally got to see all their hard work pay off Thursday as the area’s first Fuller Center for Housing home was delivered onsite at Crestview Drive in Hillsville.
More than 200 CCHS students have had a hand in the project, the first for the Greater Carroll County Area of the Fuller Center for Housing. CCHS junior Chase Stevens said it was gratifying seeing all the hard work culminate with the modular home being lifted from a crane to its foundation Thursday.
“It feels great. We started this my sophomore year and now I’m coming up on my senior year,” Stevens said. “It took over a year, but it’s all going down now. I’m just ready to see it set. It’s going to help a lady get her kids back and we get a great sense of accomplishment from that.”
Senior Megan Whitaker said the home put on its foundation Thursday was like a graduation present two days early.
“The best part is seeing it from finish to end, especially where we had fundraisers and stuff to help pay for this,” Whitaker said. “We got to meet the people moving into it and everybody in the community is helping with it. The main thing I was interested in was helping somebody.”
Carroll County High School Building Trades Instructor Rusty Warren said the pride and sense of accomplishment was evident in his students. Because of the length of the project, many students who worked on the home have since graduated. But that didn’t stop several former students from coming to the site Thursday to see their work come together.
“It really is gratifying. It’s been a lot of work and we are starting to see the payoff now,” Warren said. “We started Oct. 26, 2010 and really we had what you see done that school year. This year we’ve been working mostly on the site and the foundation. That’s taken a little bit of time.”
Warren said the program has been beneficial for everyone involved. Not only will it provide a Carroll County family with a new home, but the project has offered CCHS students a rare opportunity to get hands-on experience in an actual job environment.
“We can cut boards and hammer nails, but when you get out here it’s got to be cut just right. The work they are doing is real. It’s not practice anymore,” Warren said. “And they are starting to see how practical applications come together to form a product. The little things you can let slide in the lab has to be right when you get out here or you have to take it down and redo it. You can see why it doesn’t work. It is no longer theoretical.”
That experience is already paying off for students as Stevens said he’s gotten two jobs because of his work on the project, while Whitaker said it has improved her knowledge of electrical work immensely.
And while students in the Building Trades’ classes did the bulk of the manual labor on the home, multiple student departments at CCHS had a hand in the project. For instance, the culinary arts program provided food for community meetings associated with the project, while the mass media class provided presentation materials, video records and contacted area media outlets. Additionally, the drafting program had a major role in the home.
“This has been a real team effort on the high school’s part. The drafting class did the plans for us and there was real-world experience there because the first plan had to be revised once we took it to the customer, the Fuller Center Board,” Warren said. “They said, ‘This is nice, but what if we make these changes?’ So they had to go back and revise and do it again. And this is real-world stuff that you can never get in a classroom and have the students really understand why you are doing it. But as we start going back and revising and meeting the customers’ needs, that has real value. And while we’ve got a good project here, it is also fantastic community service opportunity that the students have been involved in. Some of the students have been able to meet the customer, so when you’ve got a face that you can put with a project and the work you’ve been doing, that really adds a lot to it.”
Warren said the hope is for the customer to be able to move into the home this summer. However, with the students getting ready to leave school for the summer, he said securing community volunteers would be crucial to finalize the project.
“We are losing the students and it’s going to be up to getting community volunteer work to come in at this point. It will be a factor of who we can get and how often we can schedule some workdays and things like that,” Warren said. “At the same time, if there are people out in the community who want to sign up and be a part of working and things like that, they can check with Sally Chitwood at Country Formals. If somebody can’t come out and work, we still need financial contributions to get it finished as well.”
Donations from the community have been a huge part of making the project work, Warren said. Lynchburg Crane donated use of the crane Thursday to move and set the home, while Smoky Hollow Construction transported the trailers as a donation. Lowe’s of Galax has also been instrumental in helping with materials, while Jeff Reynolds of Affordable Log Homes has helped with the home’s Foundation and Blue Ridge Concrete donated the concrete.
“It has been a real community effort,” Warren said. “Lots of people in community and businesses have helped out.“