Student built: Northwestern High School highlights program preparing students for the construction job market

Student built: Northwestern High School highlights program preparing students for the construction job market
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 8:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 11:16 AM CDT
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MAPLE, WI.(KBJR) --- A special program at Northwestern High School is taking hands-on learning to a new level, hoping to connect students with an in-demand industry.

For close to 60 years, students in the technical education department have been tackling a major building project every year, constructing a house.

According to school leaders, the annual project brings together about 40 students to work collaboratively to build the house.

Senior Carter Montavon served as one of this year’s student foremen.

“So we work on it every day, two classes a day,” said Montavon.

According to Montavon, he’s been looking forward to a career in construction after graduation.

“I’ve been interested in the trades my whole life,” said Montavon.

The house-building skills students like Carter are developing are currently in high demand.

Mari Kay-Nabozny is CEO of the non-profit Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board.

“We hear from construction companies constantly that they’re looking for workers and they just can’t find them,” said Kay-Nabozny.

According to Charles Nolt, a technical education teacher at Northwestern, the skills students acquire can help them land a job in the construction industry, but can also be applied to any of their future endeavors.

“There’s the hard skill of building a house, but it’s all about problem-solving. Our main focus is making sure the students are communicating, collaborating with each other, and making sure that they’re critically thinking,” said Nolt.

The house they’re building is just the shell, but Nolt said this year two Northland companies are helping students install wiring.

Viking Electric in Duluth is donating wiring materials, and Benson Electric in Superior is providing students with an electrician to instruct and supervise the wiring process.

Each year after the students build the house, it’s sold through a closed bidding process.

Last week the Maple School Board set a minimum bid of $53,000.

According to Nolt, the money from the sale will be used to finance next year’s project.

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