6:56 p.m. PDT September 28, 2015
Last year, students from McKay and South Salem high schools built a house through vocational education programs offered at their schools. That house sold for nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Now, with the Career Technical Education Center open, students from all six Salem-Keizer high schools are about to begin construction on a new house — the second to be built by students in Salem, but the first by CTEC.
CTEC opened with the Salem-Keizer School District’s first day on Sept. 9, hosting approximately 190 students in its two starting programs: residential building and commercial manufacturing.
Monday, the students of the residential building program broke ground on the new house property, located at 4809 Mehama Loop NE. The dozens of students in the program will help Con-Tech and Mike Riddle Construction with the build.
Mike Riddle said a project like this would take professionals about 90 to 100 days to complete, but they are giving the students eight to nine months, so they can take their time and get the most out of the experience.
“We want to provide as many opportunities to learn hands-on as possible,” he said.
There are some things, such as roof work, that the students are unable to do because of liability issues. To prepare students for the hands-on things they will be exposed to, students will practice at CTEC before doing the work onsite.
Alex Olsen, one of the program instructors, stressed the importance of working hard and making sure things are done correctly.
“I don’t care if you go to college or not, but you have to learn to work hard,” he said. “It’s the same principle, no matter what you do.”
Learning from last year’s pilot house, Olsen said some things will be done differently to make sure the students are getting the most out of the program, while also reducing waste of materials.
Eric Castillo, 17, thought he wanted to major in music after graduating. However, he eventually decided he wanted more hands-on work.
“I wanted to do something efficient and I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day,” he said.
The McNary student said his favorite parts of the program so far have been trying to read blueprints and working with a lot of the equipment.
He said the repetition of safety can be challenging, but he knows it’s important. In fact, he even took part in making a safety video for the center.
Castillo and the other students who were able to make the event went around talking to the attendees — something they did to understand all aspects of working on a project.
The eleven of them, all wearing bright construction jackets and white construction helmets, stood side by side as they and other project leaders took shovels and pushed them down into the gravel entryway of the property.
Gordon King, president of Con-Tech, said he is looking forward to the year.
“This is going to be a great year,” he said, just after the shovels entered the ground. “Rain or shine.”
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