Wadena-Deer Creek High School students and faculty are addressing the housing crisis head on.

Each year, beginning in the fall, a group of senior high students take on the task of building a house. Students learn carpentry and construction math skills while working on the house. This year, 11 construction class students will partake in the challenge.

Involved in the construction class this year are: Landon Blessing, Ben Johannes, Dylan Kern, Andrew Kine, Colton Knudson, Dylan Ness, Cameron Pearson, Samuel Pearson, Garrett Redning, Soren Wedde and Cody Wheeler.

The hands-on, work-based learning program pairs students with industry professionals, to build the house from the ground-up.
Carol Clauson/WDC Schools
The hands-on, work-based learning program pairs students with industry professionals, to build the house from the ground-up. Carol Clauson/WDC Schools

The Wadena-Deer Creek construction projects began in 2013-2014; however, it was not a residential house but rather a four-stall garage for the school’s mini-buses and school vehicles. Since then, the mission has moved toward family housing. The idea behind the class is to create affordable private homes for families where dwellings are often scarce and where affordable building can be a logistical challenge while teaching construction skills to students.

The specifications of the 2019-2020 house includes: 28-feet-by-40-feet, 1,120 sq. ft, two-bedroom, two-bath single-family dwelling home. The open concept floor plan includes a master bedroom that will have a private bathroom and walk-in closet, as well as other unique characteristics such as vaulted ceilings in the living room, dining room and kitchen. In addition, there will be a service door that will serve as a garage entrance if the new owners choose to add one.

The student-led build, under the instruction of WDC Engineering and Technology Teacher Mike Shrode, is a school district-funded project with its main focus on student education that also benefits the community. The core idea is that the home must be durable, weatherproof and secure. Students will spend about 3,300-hours over nine months building the two-bedroom home, which will be sold to a home buyer.

The hands-on, work-based learning program pairs students with industry professionals, to build the house from the ground-up. From understanding the blueprint to installing the exterior siding, the use of hand and power tools to measure and cut the lumber the 11 students will finish up the job and prepare the house for auction next spring. Shrode said the goal is to have the house weather-tight by early November.

"Vocational training is making a needed comeback," Shrode said as he works with the students to complete the teach-and-train project. "We’re working to provide a quality product."

When asked, Ben Johannes commented that he was inspired by “a hands-on approach of learning.” They agreed that the class develops skills that they would use long after the class is complete.

All construction, plumbing and electrical will be completed to Minnesota code. Some construction and utility work that will not be done by students will be contracted through a bidding process by local Wadena businesses.