Chesterton High School students enrolled in the Building and Trades program are celebrating the completion of their home project located at 1724 Tower Street in Chesterton, known locally as Crocker, after one year of the construction process.
Building began on the home project with junior and senior students in the 2021-2022 program. “We started this house as a collaboration with Brian Lewandoski, owner of A-1 Construction, who has been instrumental in providing the funding for the project,” said CHS Teacher Kevin Ortiz. In addition to funding the project, A-1 Construction makes a donation to CHS Building Trades after the house sells and that money goes toward purchasing tools and other necessities for the program.
The students started building the almost 1,100-square-foot home and 700-square-foot detached garage from the ground up in early October 2021. Students worked on the house during class periods in the morning and afternoon under the direction of Ortiz.
The Building Trades program is funded through the Porter County Career and Technical Education (PCCTE) under the direction of Audra Peterson. This year’s class currently has 34 students in its morning and afternoon class periods. Students who take this class learn all phases of the home construction process including: footings and foundations, framing the structure, roofing, insulating, drywall, minor electrical and plumbing, siding, painting, cabinetry, flooring, interior doors and trim, and landscaping.
“The experience I’ve gained in this program gives me a better opportunity to join the electricians union after I graduate,” said Joel Huijon, second year senior. Ortiz said that approximately 75% of the students that take this class go on to enter local unions such as carpenters, electricians, and operators. Others enter the residential home construction market in some capacity.
“All of the students participated in this project, the experience they get here will help them to enter the work force with confidence.” Ortiz said. Aside from framing the house and garage, and all the interior work, students were able to install metal roofing, landscape the property and put brick pavers between the house and the garage.
“I’ve only been in the program for a year, it's been a great experience and I can’t wait to learn more,” said first year senior Brady DeLong.
Now that construction of this home is complete, this year’s CHS classes will begin working on a new housing project on the adjacent lot in Crocker which should be close to completion by the end of the school year.