Homebuilding homework: Students help out Habitat for Humanity

Mountain View, Evergreen high schools collaborate on home

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Did you know?

• Evergreen Habitat for Humanity has completed 28 homes in Clark County; one more home — the project with Evergreen Public Schools — is almost done, and work on another home is slated to begin this month.

• Participating families must be in substandard, unsafe housing. They must also be able to pay a zero-interest mortgage and related home ownership costs, and provide 300 hours of "sweat equity" per adult.

The sherbert-green building at Mountain View High School represents a twist on student homework. The work these students did will become a family's home.

Well … half a home, really.

Evergreen Public Schools teamed with the local Habitat for Humanity organization on the project during the 2012-13 academic year.

Students at Evergreen and Mountain View high schools earned credit in an algebra-geometry class — math in construction — while getting hands-on building experience.

Evergreen Habitat for Humanity will hand the keys to a local family in a few weeks.

The students split the work down the middle, literally. It's a modular home: Half was built at Mountain View and the other half was built at Evergreen High.

School ended before all the construction was done, so some of Habitat for Humanity's local volunteers have been finishing up this summer.

One of the volunteers, Thaddaeus Fronk, actually is a student, although he wasn't part of the Evergreen school district program. The 2012 Hudson's Bay High School graduate is in the construction technology course at the Clark County Skills Center.

"I joined Habitat this summer as a volunteer," Fronk said after a work session at Mountain View High School. "The more experience, the better."

"For us, it's all about collaborating with other agencies and groups so we can build more homes," said Josh Townsley, executive director of Evergreen Habitat for Humanity. "It's also helping the school district by providing more creative curriculum."

Habitat for Humanity handles all the financial aspects of the project; the school district provides the supervised labor during the school year. About a third of the students who signed up at the start of the 2012-13 school year were girls, by the way.

The two halves of the house will be moved in early September to property in the 3700 block of Lincoln Avenue. A vacant house was demolished in July and the site was cleared. Concrete for the foundation was poured a few days ago.

"This was the first year, so there was a learning curve," said Kris Cowan, the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity construction manager. "Next year, we will have it ready to move at the end of the (school) year."

Next year isn't that far away, since the Evergreen district will welcome students back on Sept. 4.

A woman and her two sons, 15 and 11, will occupy the three-bedroom home, which is about 1,100 square feet.

The woman has worked as a medical assistant since February 2010, but hasn't been able to get a conventional home loan, Townsley said.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com