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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fairfax County students build houses

7005 Spingville Court
A brand-new house that will come on the market in Springfield soon for $824,500 is way more than just a house. About three-quarters of it was built by students from several Fairfax County high schools as part of a course on construction technology.

One of those students is Bryan Jefferson, a senior at Annandale High School, who spends the last two class blocks every other day working on the framework, drywall, cabinets, and other things. While most people have the perception that courses in construction are just for students planning to go into the trades rather than college, that’s an outdated idea. Jefferson will be attending Georgetown University next year and plans to go into real estate development or business administration.

Students in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program “are a cross-section of all students in FCPS,” says Beth Downey, CTE coordinator. “We have many students who are interested in a particular trade or want to learn more about an industry before attending college to pursue a professional degree.”

In the past 42 years, FCPS students have helped build 20 houses and several commercial facilities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Sixteen of the houses are in McLean, one is in Fairfax, and the rest are in the Spring Village development in Springfield on land owned by FCPS. The program is self-sufficient; the money raised by selling one house is used to construct another one.

The newest house, at 7005 Springville Court, is almost finished. The sale is being managed by the Integrity Real Estate Group, and an open house is planned for May 21, 3:30-5:30 p.m.  

It has six bedrooms, four bathrooms, two walk-in closets in the master bedroom, a large kitchen, a Jacuzzi in the master bath, hardwood floors, and a full basement with a door to the backyard. 

On a tour through the house, William Roberts, a senior at Hayfield Secondary School, pointed out some of the special features designed to make it accessible to people with disabilities, such as extra wide hallways, a bedroom on the first floor, and a shaft that can be used for an elevator.

The residential construction program is a joint venture of CTE and the Foundation for Applied Technical Education (FATE). The program not only teaches construction skills; students also develop teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership skills that will serve them well in any future career, said Chad Maclin, executive director of FATE and manager of the Trade and Industrial Education Program at FCPS.

“We’re teaching them how to work with contractors and how to evaluate the needs of the community,” Maclin said. And they learn the value of high-quality work. “You get paid to it right the first time. You don’t get paid to do shoddy work,” he said.

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