Playhouse the latest building block at Southside
Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Monday, December 12, 2011
Carpentry students can build career skills and strong friendships as they build structures in class at Southside Technical Center. One of their latest efforts is an 8-by-8-foot playhouse.
“It has the same components you’d see in any home – it’s just on a smaller scale,” said instructor Eric Highley, who is in his second year at Southside.
He tapped seniors Jake Newton and Andrew Watts to take the lead on this project, which has run from blueprint reading to framing and roofing.
“More or less, I just give it to them. If they have questions, I answer the questions. They’ll get to finish it all,” Highley explained.
And if the teens hit a rough spot, they simply sort it out as a team.
“That challenges the students to work together and think together and do the math and figure out the problems ahead of time,” he said.
Some wrinkles, such as this fall’s rainy weather, cannot be helped. Jake and Andrew started on the playhouse in October but still need to install the windows and doors and paint the exterior.
With three years of carpentry experience, both boys had done flooring and walls before. Rafters and roofing with cornices and shingles were new experiences, along with building a front porch.
“Before we ask for help, we talk it out first. If we’re not sure, we go and ask Mr. Highley to double-check,” Jake said.
Highley estimated the model playhouse cost about $1,500 to build. When it sells, the money will go back into the school’s coffers to buy more carpentry supplies and materials.
“We’ve put our practice to work to make something for someone else,” Jake said. “We’ll set the playhouse out front so people can see it and place orders. Then we’ll build more and work our way up.”
Andrew noted that most of the veteran carpentry students have become good friends during group projects, but the playhouse has involved different dynamics and full immersion every step of the way.
“It’s the first project where I’ve worked with one other person to build something,” he said.
“It’s been fun working as a group of two,” Jake added.
Did you know?
This year, Southside Technical Center opted to divide its carpentry program into first-year and second-year students. Novices cover basic safety and learn to use tools like hammers and saws, while in the second-year classes, safety is reinforced through OSHA lessons that prepare students for a certification exam. With the hands-on work, first-year students start with floors and wall framing, for instance, while their more experienced peers build trusses for storage sheds and concrete forms for foundations, piers and columns for commercial applications.