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Going over build details, construction technology teacher Nathan Kendig (left) laughs after junior David Wysong makes a joke. (Photo by Crystal Tran )
Going over build details, construction technology teacher Nathan Kendig (left) laughs after junior David Wysong makes a joke.

Photo by Crystal Tran

Career Center trades program helps students build their future

April 30, 2019

Whether it’s outside or inside, on school or an off property job, sunny or pouring down rain, a big or small project, the RHS construction team has been working at a professional level to help create future construction workers. The construction class offers students the opportunity to build various projects of different size and difficulty, even leaving the school to go out and build for clients.

Construction is one of the many career courses RHS offers its students. People join the construction class for many reasons.

“I’ve always been one that likes to work with my hands and put things together,” senior Dakota Vaughn said.

The construction team has a wide range of talents and skill levels as students continue to take the course. Getting opportunities to build new projects with increasing difficulty as they learn.

“One of the smallest projects would probably be birdhouses or coat racks,” construction technology teacher Nathan Kendig said. “In a lot of my foundation classes, we do stuff like that. The biggest projects that we’ve built, we built a large shed down in the depot district last year and right now we’re building a 1,200 sq. foot addition on a house, doing a screened in porch.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

Everything takes time and with construction, time can vary depending on the job.

“If it’s a small project like drawers and cabinets it takes us like one week,” junior Ignacio Sales said. “If it’s a big project, like building a house, it takes us as a few months, because we learn as we build.”

Not only does the size of the project affect the time it takes to complete it, but also the location.

“Jobs can vary depending on the size of the project and whether we’re working on them outside or in our shop,” Vaughn said.

While it’s important to be good individually, having good teamwork is just as important.

“[The bond between the team is] pretty close, we’re all pretty close together because in our shop we have so many running tools in there that are extremely dangerous,” Kendig said. “One of our main rules is watching out for each other. Everybody protects each other because I only have two eyes and I can’t see everybody at the same time, so generally everybody sticks together pretty well.”

The construction team is always working, sometimes even building things for the school.

“When we build for the school we usually build for other teachers,” Sales said. “Especially the ones that have after-school events.”

Some of these school events they’ve built for was the drama club’s two school productions.

“We built, for the most part, both of those sets [Charlie Brown and Clue],” Kendig said. “In the first one we built all three of their castered wheeled projects with stands on them with the walls, so they could spin them around and change the settings from one to the other very quickly. In Charlie Brown we built Snoopy’s dog house, we’re actually taking that down right now and bringing it back to our shop; that was a little longer project, it took us about a week to do for Mr. Langley.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

The construction team was vital to bringing drama club leader, William Langley’s, vision to life.

“The construction team has been super cooperative,” he said. “There weren’t any complications. I try to give them a lot of creative freedom, essentially just giving them dimensions of how big things need to be and a general idea of what I want it to be, but they did everything really well.”

While the construction team is more known for building sets for theatre productions, when building for the school it’s usually smaller things for various teachers.

“I’d say we build the most for the other career class teachers like Summey, Snyder, and Wilson,” Vaughn said.

Sometimes their creations can be overlooked, with some people not even realizing how much they’ve built for the school.

“The swing outside in the library there, that was built a couple of years before I got here,” Kendig said. “I know they’ve done some work down at the stage. Ms. Smith’s desk in her office, the big countertop that sits in front of her, the construction team built all of that. We built the racks in Mr. Hensley’s office that he hangs all of his prize-winning medals on, we’ve built those kinds of things. I suppose I’d have to walk around and really take a look again to refresh, but there’s actually a lot of things around here that we build. People wouldn’t even notice. Most people don’t know that Ms. Hawley’s table tops were built by us, you wouldn’t know it unless we said something.”

Even though they may be a high school class, the way they work and their finished product is completely professional.

“The final product, what ended up on stage, were the images that I had in my head,” Langley said. “With Clue, I had gone through a couple of different set designs before I decided on what we ended up with, and they were willing to deal with me while I was changing my ideas.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

Unlike other career classes that only teach inside the school, the construction team not only builds for the school but also takes on many outside jobs.

“[The team treats outside jobs] pretty seriously because they know when they step onto the job site that’s somebody else’s home, that’s somebody else’s project in general,” Kendig said. “It becomes a lot more special to them, I think because they know they’re building something that’s gonna last a lifetime. They get to actually stand behind and go show their parents. And as people come around and say ‘wow, who built that,’ they can say the construction technology team, so I think they take a lot of pride in most of those jobs that they do.”

Some enjoy doing outside jobs rather than inside the school.

“I do enjoy [building for the school],” Vaughn said. “But most of the time I like to be out on a job site working.”

Others find it’s nice being able to show off their work.

“I do enjoy building for the school because then you can show your finish project to other students and can use it to get other students that are interested in that class to join,” Sales said.

The teacher also shares similar feelings about building in the school.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Kendig said. “You get to see what you’ve built every day. People will actually get used out of it and the more people that get used out of it, the more people want us to do more projects, which helps us out and keeps us nice and busy. And we get to help out the school at the same time.”

Others don’t really see a difference between the two.

“You don’t get paid is really the only difference,” senior Phillip Hobbs said.

Building for the school and building for outside jobs both have pros and cons.

“When you’re building for the school it’s a lot easier to take your time because we’re here in the shop all the time,” Kendig said. “When we’re building off school property, on site, things have to go a little quicker because you’re still working for a homeowner, you’re working for a company. They expect things to be done, not only correctly, but in a reasonable time frame, and so you have to work a little bit faster when you’re on the job site.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

However, Kendig also sees outside jobs affecting students to work positively.

“As opposed to being at school, you can take your time, I can teach a little bit more, intricacy becomes a little bit better when we’re here,” he said. “They also like to work harder, they enjoy getting out there in the sun, it doesn’t matter what the temperature is because they still go out and they work hard. From here at school, it’s also easier to get off track too.”

Sales agree that working for the school has less pressure than working outside does.

“I think that building for the school is easier than working outside,” he said. “What we build for the school we have to make sure it’s safe to use, but building outside we have to make sure everything thing is perfect and safe.  If we do anything wrong it can make us look bad and the school.”

The construction team helps everyone they come in contact with one way or another, building for the school or off property, teaching the students important skills for the trade, and more. For how much they build, most people don’t know how much they actually do.

“I would say mainly people don’t know about what we build because we don’t put it out there in huge quantity,” Kendig said. “As far as being on Facebook, or Twitter, or things like that, we do put some of those things out there, but we don’t do a lot of it. And we don’t do a lot of advertising, for the simple fact that we just don’t need to, to get projects and things like that. I definitely would like to do more of it. That way people can see how much we actually do, not only for the school but for the community itself. We work through not just our school, but all the schools in the RCS; right now on Friday, we’re delivering things to Test Intermediate and to Starr Elementary. We don’t need a lot of advertisement, but I definitely want to push the fact that these guys work really hard, guys and girls both, but that they work very hard and we definitely need to push that more.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

Others believe people just don’t understand how hard construction actually is.

“I think it’s because they don’t see how many hours and how much work the projects take,” Hobbs said.

Another reason may be because of how many career courses RHS offers.

“I think this class is very underrated as far as students wanting to take it,” Vaughn said. “We need more people who are wanting to learn and work, it’s such a rewarding program, but it’s often overlooked because of other career ed. classes that are offered at RHS. I would just like people to know that it’s a great thing to do if you’re looking to get into this field after high school. Even if you aren’t, it’s still an amazing learning experience and more students should be open to giving it a try.”

The stronger the team, the better the work.

“Strengths, definitely they work hard,” Kendig said. “Most of the time when they’re on it, they’re on it. They’re intelligent kids, everybody works really hard. I would say their level of respect for not only what they’re doing, but for me and the classroom as well. I think that’s definitely a huge strength that all of my kids have.”

However, no team is perfect and the construction team is no exception.

“The strengths are that we all get along and can do great things,” Hobbs said. “Our weakness is that we all get along and it can cause distractions.”

Photo by Crystal Tran

While the students get many opportunities that will better their construction careers, it’s not as easy as it seems.

“It’s not something that will come easy, you’re gonna struggle sometimes picking up on certain things,” Vaughn said. “But if you’re willing to work at it and really perfect your craft, it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.”

The world of construction is open to anybody willing to try it.

“Join it,” Hobbs said. “It’s a growing industry that will always be there. There will always be a need for the construction worker in our society.”

Construction as a career isn’t for everybody, but the class can be.

“Sign up for an introduction or foundation class,” Kendig said. “Any sophomores I’d say sign up for the introduction class, even freshmen, even if you just want to learn something about construction. Sign up and take a semester, decide whether you like it or not. If you enjoy it and you like it, take the full year we do a lot of fun things and I feel like what we teach down here, what I can teach you in the shop, along with within the classroom, you’re going to get to use for the rest of your life. Whether you actually work in construction or not, so I highly suggest anybody who’s even considered about it or even thinking about it, please come in and sign up.”

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