Students build cabin on lake at James Valley Career and Technology Center



The project allowed students to gain hands-on experience, said Bob Thoreson, a construction trades instructor, while reducing costs for the owner.

“This is one of the huge benefits of the things we can do here as well. The kids have a great experience and the customer gets a great deal with no labor costs, ”Thoreson said. “So we like to say it’s a win-win in this scenario.”

And Darby Heinert, deputy principal of the Career and Technology Center and deputy principal of Jamestown High School, says these types of experiences are not only valuable to students, but can help potential employers as well.

About 17 junior and senior students in building trades classes worked on the cabin from late October through May.

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“I’ve worked in construction with my dad over the years and always wanted to learn more,” said Shaun Kurtz, one of the students working on the project. He said it was a “great opportunity to learn more about this”.

The 600 square foot lake cabin was sold before the start of the project. It was built at the Career and Technology Center and recently moved to its location. Thoreson said he will be doing some finishing work on the cabin this month.

The building trades teach aspects of general construction, Thoreson said. This can include the fields of plumbing, electrical, and architectural design, but generally gives students experience primarily in framing and the details related to it, he said.

But Thoreson also has bigger goals in mind for the classes.

Bob Thoreson is a building and trades instructor at the James Valley Career and Technology Center.  John M. Steiner / The Sun

Bob Thoreson is a building and trades instructor at the James Valley Career and Technology Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun

“No. 1, one of my big goals is to teach them and give them the opportunity to do a lot of things on their own when they become owners and / or landowners and want to build things”, he said. “I tell them … you can save thousands of dollars in labor costs by taking on the challenge of doing it yourself.”

This includes installing windows, framing the walls and siding, he said.

Kaden Williams, a student in the class, said he learned a lot about how to build something by working on the cabin. He has no plans to go into the building trades, but says he has reaped a lot of benefits from it.

“It was a good learning experience for all of us to help figure out how to do everything” and to work together to get things done, he said.

Thoreson, who is in his fourth year as a building trades instructor, said the plan is to do a project every year if possible. While other years students have worked on house projects, there aren’t enough students in the program these days to do something on such a large scale. Instead, the classes took on hangars and other smaller projects. This year, they also installed cabinets and did other work at the Jamestown Public Schools Halfway House, Thoreson and Heinert said.

The lake cabin work was a type of pilot project, Thoreson said.

“We did pretty much everything from floor to walls, built our own rafters for the attic and insulated, worked on the material for the interior walls,” he said.

The cabin is finished with tongue and groove pine wood and includes a kitchen, bathroom, family room, loft and two bedrooms.  John M. Steiner / The Sun

The cabin is finished with tongue and groove pine wood and includes a kitchen, bathroom, family room, loft and two bedrooms. John M. Steiner / The Sun

A licensed electrician and licensed plumber also worked on parts of the project, Thoreson said. He hopes that in the future a licensed plumber / instructor can provide hands-on training for students.

Heinert said the lake cabin project fits into workplace learning. The center can provide a simulated experience like the project to build a cabin on the lake or real work experience at a job. For example, the center can help a student find paid or unpaid construction work that the student will also get credit for on-the-job learning, he said.

Students of these work experiences and courses starting next fall will be assessed weekly in five areas: their quality of communication, quality of collaboration, problem solving, technical skills and a high level of professionalism. , said Heinert. Staff will work with students to develop these skills, he added.

Darby Heinert, Deputy Director of the James Valley Career and Technology Center, talks about the various specialist training offered at the facility.  John M. Steiner / The Sun

Darby Heinert, Deputy Director of the James Valley Career and Technology Center, talks about the various specialist training offered at the facility. John M. Steiner / The Sun

“We want them to be ready for the workforce,” said Heinert. “When our children leave here, they will have a solid foundation and they will be able to be an effective employee according to the criteria that we have determined that will make them very effective in the workplace. “

Heinert said that a two-year construction trades student would have a skill set strong enough to transition into the workforce or continue their education after graduation.

“We try to promote sponsorship (with companies),” he said. “And that’s a good thing about workplace learning. We hope that more and more sponsorships will come.

He said some companies through sponsorship are already providing tools and courses to students in exchange for their work for the company for a specific period of time. A student who does not fulfill the contract must reimburse the company a certain amount based on the time worked / remaining.

Heinert noted that the Career and Technology Center also offers on-the-job learning in healthcare, auto crashes, automotive technology, agriculture, and child care.

For more information, contact the James Valley Career and Technology Center at 252-8841.



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