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From Dirt To Duplex! Upper classmen Gain Experience

The Johnson Pioneer of Johnson, Kansas

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Imagine high school juniors and seniors building a new home from the ground up that's exactly what Mr. Merl Seger's construction class is doing! This year the Board of Education approved a two-year construction class for all qualifying upperclassmen students in good standing and meeting the pre-requisite class of Woods 1. For Mr. Seger, this has been a thirteen-year process to get the school district to provide the resources necessary for such a lofty undertaking! Last year Mr. Seger's previous request for students to build a duplex for the district was finally approved. Twelve students enrolled in the construction class and met the requirements to help construct a duplex at 314 North McDonald Street. Today as you drive by the construction site, notice the high school students working alongside their teacher! The following interviews were conducted by the superintendent of schools on Monday September 28, 2015, during one of the two classes of students: Senior, Berenice Ayala says, "I wanted to take a shop class with Mr. Seger and it turned out I was put in this construction class. I got excited about building a house and know that it could help me if I wanted to build a house someday. The only hard part has been dealing with the heat. The best part so far has been that it is like a job. We are treated like professional workers so we can eat snacks and have other freedoms. It is kind of sad that the senior class won't get to help finish the project. Hopefully, we will get to look inside when it is done!"

Senior Kennedy Smith answered the same questions with these comments, "I was planning on having a shop class with Mr. Seger anyways and it happened to fit into my schedule to be in this construction class. Mr. Seger said I would enjoy it. So far, I have learned a lot about the difficulties of tually building a hous like the names of materials and how much planning there is before building. Hopefully, someday I will build my own home. When I came to his class I wanted to learn the technical aspects of building and I am! The toughest part of building has been finding out the measurements of everything. Lots of math skills go into the design of the building. I really look forward into building the duplex next to the existing one. Hopefully, it will compare! It's exciting to think about someone living in the house we build. I definitely will make the trip back to see the finished duplex."

Caleb Sipes provided the following comments, "I enrolled in this class because I was really interested in this. I always like construction and working with wood so I thought it would be fun. It is a side interest for me since I plan to farm as my occupation. Learning how to build walls is more complicated than you think. Learning exactly how far apart to put studs and adjusting it for doors.... things like that have been new to me. I've enjoyed it all. I'd like to be around whenever the duplex is done. The real life application is much more fun than the CAD (computer aided drafting) programs on the computer."

Quinton Seely provided these answers to my questions, "I didn't want to take physics or anatomy and this was the only other option for me! Learning how to build a house is a good skill to have in life. All of this construction is new to me. I will have more knowledge about building a house after this class. So far some of the work has been really hard. Dakota, Javier, and I have two classes in a row of this! We come out and work twice a day on this house. After high school I am going into the Army to be a mechanic. I am enjoying this whole process of construction though."

Comments from Dakota Richardson include, "I have always liked taking Mr. Seger's classes so I took this one. Last year he told me to take this class. I am learning about all the aspects it takes to build a house. I don't know if I could really build a house after this class. I plan to go to work farming after high school."

Javier Olivias was the final student to be interviewed in this class. He had the following comments, "Mr. Seger talked about this class last year and I wanted to be a part of it. So far, just building the walls has been interesting and I've learned a lot. When I graduate I plan to go to college. This year I will take six of Mr. Seger's classes. He's my favorite teacher and I consider him a mentor!

We all work together as a team. I recommend this class to underclassmen if they have an interest in construction. I would tell them to take this class!"

Mr. Seger's challenges include standing in lengthy lines at times to purchase supplies. "It can be frustrating standing in a check-out line for hours to make sure you have the materials ready for the next class." He says the biggest reward is the student excitement of building a house and the students being able to say, "I helped build that house in town!" Mr. Seger and his group of twelve upper classman students are leaving a permanent mark on this town. So, give the students and teacher a big wave or honk as you drive by the construction zone. We look forward to watching the project progress from dirt to duplex!

Copyright 2015 The Johnson Pioneer, Johnson, Kansas. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 8, 2015

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