A recently renewed program at Lebanon High School allows students to get some hands-on experience building a house. Not only that, but the district – who bought the property and is financing the construction – will ultimately sell the 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home potentially by late summer. Those proceeds will then be used to buy a new property, thus continuing the program.
These types of programs are not new in Oregon, but are becoming more commonplace in an era of continued workforce and affordable-housing shortages. It’s been nearly two decades since Lebanon High School students built a house and sold it to fund the vocational program, but in 2016, the Lebanon School Board reinstated the program, endowing the course with $160,000 to build on the site at 901 West Vine Street in Lebanon.
Teacher Eric Frazier leads the students, spending four periods of class time each day working on the house. Their responsibilities include framing walls, pouring concrete footings, and hooking up mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Although they got off to a slow start, the house will wrap up construction at the end of the semester.
Investing in workforce development training has long been a goal of schools in the Mid Willamette Valley, and although some programs like the Regional Trades Academy didn’t fully pan out, programs like the one at LHS are very much a priority to board members who realize their necessity, as well as the opportunity.
By Chris McDowell