RACINE — Rarely does a school project encompass so much and include so many. Right now Park, Horlick and Case high schools are each working on building tiny houses for homeless veterans.
“It’s hard for teenagers to get out of their bubble,” said Joe Pascucci, department chair for tech education at Park High School. “This is about helping other people.”
The tiny houses will be part of a tiny house village operated by Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, which will provide homeless veterans their own individual house along with a community center that will have bathrooms and a meeting space.
Veterans Outreach hopes to have 15 tiny houses at 1624 Yout St. as soon as possible. Each of the schools are seeing this as a teaching moment.
“This is an opportunity to show them that what we do in the classroom transfers to the real world,” Pascucci said.
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The wood the schools have received has been donated by 2x4’s For Hope in Illinois. That organization allows individuals to buy 2x4s for $3, and they can sign it with any message they like.
Terellus Bolton, a junior at Park, has an uncle in the Army and said it’s good for his classmates to help veterans in this way.
“They risked their lives so we can have our freedom,” Bolton said. “So it’s the least we can do to give back.”
The students at Park work on the tiny home after school on Friday and Saturday mornings.
“We stress this is about other people and if you’re going to come, you’re going to work hard,” Pascucci said. “And you’re going to learn and you’re going to have fun.”
Pressure is on
The students at Park have the luxury of building their home inside. The students at Horlick High School don’t have the space inside their school, so the kids work on their tiny home outside in the early-morning cold.
“Really the only difficult part is lifting the wood in the cold,” said Calvin McClain, a sophomore at Horlick. “If it was warm we probably wouldn’t have a problem.”
The students feel a bit of added pressure, knowing this project will be used beyond their time at Horlick.
“We can’t mess it up,” McClain said. “To know someone is going to be living in there is pretty scary.”
Darrell Perry, the construction and woodshop teacher at Horlick, said he’s been waiting to bring a project of this size into his classroom for several years.
“Now there is pressure,” Perry said of his students. “They’ve always worked hard but now there is pressure … they’re measuring two, three times to make sure everything is right.”
The tiny home at Horlick will be unique to the first veteran that will live in it.
“We have a homeless veteran that’s in a wheelchair that needs a place to live,” Perry said. “So we’re building this to be handicapped-accessible.”
Perry said this project will allow students to admire something they did in high school long after they graduate.
“They drive down to go to The Sausage Kitchen, they look over and see something they build,” Perry said. “They’re excited about that … This is good for kids in the whole city.”