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SVHS Residential Construction Class completes project

 

This feature appeared in the May 29, 2024 edition of the Star Valley Independent. PHOTOS BY DUKE DANCE AND SVHS CONSTRUCTION.

• The project serves student trades education and local housing crisis.

After nearly two years of work, the Star Valley High School Residential Construction students are completing their first project, which is a home in south Afton. Students, administrators and community leaders and contractors gathered Thursday, May 23 for an open house in celebration of the project completion.

Drafting and accounting students collaborated on this project with the construction students, taking this home from infancy in the design stages, planning and zoning expectations, through the financing and budgeting exercises and into every aspect of the construction. The Bank of Star Valley, helped on the back end with financing, and SVHS Construction teacher, Michael Mattson, served as lead on the project.

“It’s an extremely exciting project,” said Rod Jensen, President of the Bank of Star Valley, in a radio interview with SVI Media last week, where SVHS Construction teacher, Michael Mattson, and SVHS Construction student Jace Perry joined the conversation. “We called it The Residential Home Education Program and The Affordable Housing Program. Star Valley has a huge affordable housing problem, and we need to train students who want to go into vocations to be carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. We really need that labor supply in Star Valley and we need housing, so basically, we met with Lincoln County School District No. 2 Education Foundation and the Lincoln County School District No. 2,” creating and implementing a plan to address both of these community needs. “This has been a broad Community effort. It has not just been the Bank of Star Valley. It’s taken the Education Foundation and great support from the administration at the school.”

Jensen explained that the purpose of the project is three-fold. The banking administrators wanted to provide a vocational education experience for students.

“We want [to offer] real life experience and educational opportunities for students. Not just to go build, but to really build a house and see it from foundation to finish. They have done a tremendous job!”

The third objective with this project was to “provide lower cost housing in Star Valley – not the median price housing, but something more affordable, and I think we’re going to achieve that.”

The newly completed house is the beginning of what Jensen and SVHS hope becomes a tradition at SVHS for students who want to acquire marketable skills to use immediately out of high school. The bank has already acquired a building lot for a second home to be built beginning this summer.  “We will be transferring that lot to  Lincoln County School District No. 2 Education Foundation” so that students can begin construction on another house.

As soon as administrators of the bank and the education foundation work out a few more details, the house is expected to be placed on the market.  “The bottom line is that it’s going to provide critical housing for some family to come to Star Valley,” said Jensen.

“I’ve built out in the industry but working with the kids is a real blast,” said Mattson. “The majority of them come to work. They want to learn. They could have taken an easy route and stayed at the school that’s climate controlled, but they come out to work in December in Star Valley on a roof, shoveling snow. They’re the ones that make it a blast.”

Mattson is grateful for the vast community support that his students have received on this project, including monetary support from the Bank of Star Valley, and “emotional support and guidance that has been constant from the local contractors” and community members. “Ryan Merritt brought his crew and his [concrete] forms, and his crew taught the students how to do concrete. Kenny Thompson had his crew explain electrical to the students and show them how it goes in the house. The community and professional support has just been consistent throughout. That’s been incredible.”


Afton Planning and Zoning representative, Violet Sanderson, visited the class to teach the students about planning and permits. The students have done the work through the entire process from blueprints and finances through “setting trusses or caulking trim joints.”

Jensen and Mattson hope to see this experience strengthen student resumes and open employment doors.“I hope that they’ll be able to walk on a job site and have skills that they’ve developed here or at home – working with others, reading blueprints,” said Mattson. “They have that confidence – That’s the hope.”

Perry, a Senior who graduates from SVHS tomorrow, was involved with the project from the pouring of the foundation to placing the house on the market.  He feels the experience has been invaluable for him.  “We were able to do a lot more than we were allowed to learn in the shop because we were able to learn about concrete and electrical and everything else that’s involved in actually building a house, just everything from the ground up. It’s been a way cool experience.”

Though having to work in the cold weather of two winters was unexpected, Perry is honored to have been part of the team that completed the program’s inaugural project.  He plans to take his acquired knowledge and skills into his post high school studies at Utah State University next fall where he plans to study Civil Engineering. The project also gave him the skills to be a 1st Place Carpentry finisher at the Wyoming State SkillsUSA event, which lands him a spot at the SkillsUSA National competition in Atlanta, Georgia this summer.

Jensen is grateful for the community support from so many individuals in the Star Valley business community and private sector. “It’s been tremendous. This has been a fun project and I truly believe that we’re going to have some young entrepreneurs and contractors come out of this program, which is fantastic, and a positive for everyone.”

To support future projects in these programs, please contact Jensen at BOSV Afton Branch or reach out to the LCSD No. 2 Education Foundation at 307-885-3811

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