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High School Students Learn, Build and Donate

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SIDNEY, Mich. — In central Montcalm County at the Area Career Center, high school students build things with wood. It may be a small, mock mobile home, or dog house complete with finished floors, studs, trim and siding.

It was a program for students that started in the 1970s and offered kids the chance to learn all about building and construction. While wood shop classes for high school students is nothing new, what may be unique are the dog houses they build. Full size outdoor houses for dogs that get donated to the Montcalm Animal Shelter in Stanton. About 30 students are in instructor Scott Jarrett’s class this year and it will take the better part of it to construct about a dozen such houses.

“They are introduced to every aspect of the building process. From site work all the way through the building permit stage, and all the way through the finished trim in a house” says Jarrett. They typically build by using recycled material from projects in previous years…so the cost is kept quite low. The students use everything from a table saw, to a mitre saw, to tape measures and squares. Much of what they learned previously in the classroom and from their books is applied in a hands-on setting that utilizes geometry, trigonometry, and basic building skills.

“For the past two years we’ve built a playhouse for the Montcalm Casa program. They give us material, we donate our time to build it” says Jarrett. The group also builds custom dog houses for anyone who wants one. It can usually be done at a fraction of the cost (of a store) and the recipient is only charged for materials.

Many of the students love the class since it gets them away from the traditional classroom and book work and allows them to be creative and build/construct something from scratch. At a time when most animal shelters are struggling for donations and ways to house pets, it’s great to see kids learning, building, and donating to an organization in need.

Find the Montcalm Area Career Center starting page here. Find their Facebook page here. There’s some great photos of the things they’ve been doing. If you’d like to have a custom dog house built by the students at cost contact MACC instructor Scott Jarrett at (616) 225-5740.

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