By April Toler
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Early on a recent Thursday morning, Jayms Chandler, like thousands of other area students, headed off to school.
But when Chandler got to his first class – construction technology – the Bloomington High School South student didn’t sit down at a desk.
He climbed onto a roof.
“It definitely feels like school, because you’re learning, but it’s more hands-on,” Chandler said of the class. “It’s a lot more interesting. You get to impress people with the work you do, you get to meet new people. It’s really an awesome class.”
Construction technology, formerly known as building trades, is one of many classes offered through Hoosier Hills Career Center that allows students from eight area high schools to receive hands-on, “real workplace experience.”
Currently, the class is working on a roofing project for retired Hoosier Hills teacher and Bloomington High School North Athletic Director Ralph Sieboldt. Other projects conducted by the class include building detached garages, room additions, porches, carports, a pool house and siding and roofing projects.
The homeowners purchase the supplies and pay fees for each project.
“We try to teach them the basics, and hopefully they’ll get some good experience that will benefit them later in life,” teacher Chris Carnegie told The Herald-Times. “Like I tell them when they come in here, probably not all of them are going to be carpenters, but hopefully all of them are going to be homeowners and they’ll gain some experience where they can do their own repairs on their own home.”
Carnegie has taught the class for 17 years and keeps a diligent eye on the students’ work. He said keeping his students hard at work hasn’t really been an issue.
He also has the help of teaching assistant Nora Burks, who works with the students who might be struggling with their classes. Students must keep up with their regular classes in order to take electives at Hoosier Hills.
“They are here because they want to be here,” Carnegie said of the students.
For Bianca Davis, the only girl in the class, construction technology is a way for her to do something hands-on instead of just “sitting in a classroom.”
It’s also a way for her to pay homage to her father, who worked in construction.
“I like construction,” Davis said. “My dad died in June, and he did construction, so I just decided I want to do this as a career” in his honor, she said.
At the end of the day, Carnegie said, the students not only have knowledge to carry with them, but also a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
Carnegie said he would compare his students’ work to any professionals’ out there.