The skills and life lessons we take away from our time in school can often last us a lifetime, but it’s not often those lessons take you outside the classroom to rebuild a vacant home in your community. That’s exactly what students at one school in the Southern Tier are doing, with the goal of giving back.
To the average person, a vacant home may not look like much. But step inside, and you’ll quickly realize it represents much more
A group of high school students are completely renovating the property, with the goal if giving it new life. For students like Tyler Krom, it’s a way to step out of the classroom to learn some valuable skills.
“Personally, I learn a lot better that way because when I do something, then I'll remember it forever, as opposed to like pen and paper when I actually do it. And you're actually cutting the wall and screwing it, and that's a lot easier to remember,” said Krom, who is a senior at Owego Free Academy.
The project is a partnership between Owego Free Academy and the local land bank, which bought the building and is completely funding the renovation thanks to a $65,000 grant from the Floyd Hooker Foundation. Longtime trades teacher Rick Creeley watches on as his students look to give back to their community while learning a thing or two.
“It's been a great experience. We started out by tearing out, which everybody thought it was fun at first. And then the days kind of drag on and they get dirty and. And so we have that to deal with. Now we're starting to rebuild. And they're there. They take pride in what they do and they can see what they do every day,” said Creeley.
It’s that pride that motivates students like Krom to come back each and every day.
“One day I might want to build my own house. So knowing the knowledge I learned in the past year and a half going to be two years here is just going to be very helpful for if I want to do that someday,” said Krom.
“For one, they're learning how to work as a team. Problem solving there. They're learning how to show up for work on time. You know what's expected of them," said Creeley.
With a completely retrofitted bus carrying all the tools that they need each day, and a K9 companion, these kids are preparing for their futures in more ways than one. And with trade workers across the state in high demand, it comes at the perfect time.
“There's probably over a million some odd jobs right now available for kids or anybody that wants to get into the trades. Last year we were able to graduate kids and they'd had the job right after high school," said Creeley.
When the home is completed, the students hope to gift it to a family in need.