Seguin High students help nonprofit build homes
11 Feb 2023
Felicia Frazar The Seguin Gazette
The sound of hammers banging on wood and table saws buzzing in the construction trades shop meant the Seguin High School students were busy working on their projects.
Their focus is homes, but not the typical houses one would expect a high school student to construct. Construction trades instructor Jason Rice has partnered with Habitat For Humanity to assist the nonprofit organization with building wall panels for Habitat homes.
“Habitat provides the plans and the material and we build the structural wall panels,” he said. “I looked around and there is one other school in the city of San Antonio that is doing what we’re doing.”
Once the students receive the plans and materials, they study the project, measure, mark and cut the material per the plans, and then they assemble the walls, Rice said.
Rice’s main goal is to teach the students skills in construction trades, and the partnership with Habitat For Humanity gives the teens real-world lessons and experience.
“We need real-world projects and, obviously, with us being a school, we could never afford to build a home,” he said. “But (the students are) going to do every wall for a house. This is real for them. It is not something fictional for them to read and interpret. It is real lumber that is going to be used.”
The students are getting help from core volunteers, including Habitat board member Carlos Moreno, whose business Lone Star Home Solutions — located behind the Seguin High School campus — offers work space for Habitat to build wall panels.
“What is great about Habitat is that it is a community organization,” he said. “To be able to partner with a construction trades department is great. We love children and we love helping the community, and watching to see this thing come together has been fun. I don’t know how it’s going to look in the future, but I know it is a great thing and this is a great start.”
The partnership with Habitat can open many doors for students to learn a skill or a trade, Rice said.
“We talk about all of the different trades that are involved with building a house — electrical, HVAC, plumbing, concrete, carpentry, framing, roofing,” Rice said. “These kids can go and get experience or careers in these fields and already have this experience. We can only do so much as a school, but by introducing them to Habitat, the students have these opportunities that are available just by showing up to a build site.”
Those core volunteers are just the teachers that can help give these students learn extra lessons, Moreno said.
“These gentlemen, most of them are retired and they work every Thursday and Saturday, so they know how to build houses and wall panels,” he said. “Our core guys in Seguin got real good at building wall panels. That core group is awesome because they know how to teach kids and other volunteers how to do this.”
The lessons go far beyond the walls Habitat helps build, Rice said. In addition to talking about the construction side of what Habitat does, he talks to his students about the family they are helping, and the organization’s mission.
“We talk about how this is for the community, it is going to a good use,” he said. “We talk about the family. This is an opportunity to share with them the economics side of things with Habitat, which makes homeownership possible.”
Moreno said he is excited for the partnership between the school and Habitat For Humanity and what it could lead to in the future.
“Kudos to Jason Rice and the construction trades leader here for accepting and being open to this vision, which is having the kids produce wall panels for homes and building homes in this community,” he said. “It is just kind of mind blowing. I don’t know what this is going to look like in the future.”