Metro high school students build tiny house to prepare for construction industry jobs

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- The construction industry is booming right now. It needs good, qualified workers and can't hire them fast enough.

So students in the construction technology program at the Herndon Career Center in Raytown are building a house themselves to develop skills that will get them right into the job market after high school.

It's not your dad's shop class. The students at Herndon are building the entire house, start to finish, inside the shop.

Rashad Cashier works on the tiny home at Herndon Career Center in Raytown

"I'm just in amazement," said Alex Arbuckle, a senior at Lee's Summit North. "I love just sitting back and looking at it. It's my pride and joy."

Jim Oliver teaches construction trade in the Raytown School District.

"For the past few years, we have built shed as most schools have done," he said. "And this year, coming into it, I felt like we had to do something different."

So they're building a 900-square-foot tiny home with a double garage and all the amenities. And from the foundation to the roof, the students are doing it all.

"I'm pretty proud," Raytown High senior Rashad Cashier said. "I actually installed the windows in the front of the house, and I was like, 'Wow, I can't believe I actually did this.' I showed my next-door neighbor who owns his own window company. He said, 'OK, now you're ready for it.'"

The students even did the design work, drawing up the plans.

"I took a class at my home school, computer aided drafting class, and my teacher taught me how to do that, and I've got the computer software here," Arbuckle said.

Students work on the tiny home at Herndon Career Center in Raytown.

Doing all the work themselves allows them to learn skills they can put to use on the job as soon as they graduate.

"Right now the industry is dying for good, solid candidates to come to work," Oliver said. "We feel like we provide a good platform for the students to learn. I mean, we're talking about kids who are 17, 18 years old, getting ready to start a career path and choosing maybe not to go that route of college, maybe choosing to go right into the industry to start making money, and this provides that."

The program also gives the students an opportunity to learn remodeling and home repair skills.

The building program is held at Herndon Career Center in the Raytown district, but students from several different metro high schools can enroll to get the real-world and hands-on experience.

Students work on the tiny home at Herndon Career Center in Raytown.

Many of them said they feel confident and excited to graduate next month and take their skills into the job market to start careers in construction.

"I know I can do anything I put my mind to," Cashier said. "If I want to do it, I can get it done."

"They're looking for people who are ready to work, that are self-starters, that can go out there and do what they need to do and step up to the plate and take the lead," Arbuckle said.

The tiny house will be finished by May 19 -- graduation day. But the program plans to use it for the next couple of years. Future students will break it down in a way that lets them reuse the materials, redesign another one and do it all over again.

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