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House built by students hits the road, headed for Michigan City
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House built by students hits the road, headed for Michigan City

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CHESTERTON — A house being built by students hit the road, with finishing touches to be added at the house’s new home in Michigan City this semester.

The home is the second to be built at Chesterton High School in partnership with Housing Opportunities. It’s going to be moved to a vacant lot on Ninth Street in Michigan City, said Jordan Stanfill, the agency’s executive director.

He’s grateful to the students for donating the labor and Michigan City officials for donating the lot.

“Without them we couldn’t offer a good affordable home for that price,” Stanfill said.

The sale of the first home built by students is expected to be completed this month, he said.

Principal Brent Martinson said he hopes the students will be able to build a house every year for Housing Opportunities.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to learn skills that can help them in the workforce,” Martinson said.

He and the previous building trades instructor came up with the idea to build homes and partnered with Housing Opportunities to make it happen, Martinson said.

Students began building the house during the last school year, but it wouldn’t be finished in time to be moved to the new location in Michigan City, so it’s being finished this year.

Some 60 students have been involved in constructing the house so far, but others are involved as well, Martinson said, including interior design and architecture classes. That’s a total of some 75 to 100 students involved in the home’s completion, he estimated.

“It’s nice to see every kid matters here,” Martinson said.

Instructor Kevin Ortiz said the three-bedroom, one-bathroom house measures 26 feet by 40 feet. It was built in two halves at the high school. Beginning Tuesday, the pieces will be tied together and finishing work can begin. Drywall and other work had to wait until the house could be protected from the weather, he said.

All seven seniors working on the house plan to go into the construction business, Ortiz said. A partnership with the carpenters union will allow interested students to go straight into an apprenticeship and skip the waiting period, he said.

Student Claire Jones, of Chesterton, has helped build the home.

“I’ve learned it’s very important to be a team working here,” she said.

Jones plans to go into project management and architecture. Learning the nuts and bolts of construction will help her in the future, she said.

Travis Konarski, of Chesterton, said he likes working with his hands. This year, the students took the partially finished home from last year and straightened the walls and did other work, he said. Konarski plans to pursue a degree in construction management.

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