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Snohomish High teens are building a tiny house

Ray Destefano (in foreground) works on part of the tiny house.

SNOHOMISH — The classrooms in Building D at Snohomish High School contain many tools shaping the young minds of future leaders, contractors, engineers, scientists, coaches, nurses and more.
In one particular classroom sits the beginnings of a tiny house, which students are building to make a difference with the homeless population and learn construction.
Last week, a group of sophomore to senior boys in the twilight of their high school days were working on the tiny structure’s framing. Their deadline to finish the house was about two weeks away.
Their tiny house will be shown at the CTE Showcase of Skills in Olympia on March 27 before Gov. Jay Inslee and other luminaries, and then will be used as transitional housing for homeless people in Seattle at the North 88th Street Tiny House Village.
In the SHS workshop, tables of plywood and metal were littered with the tiny house building plans, hammers, drills, mallets and C-clamps as the boys worked and talked.
Every once in a while, one boy would call out, “Johnson! Over here” to beckon the teacher in charge,
Matt Johnson. Johnson would walk over to listen and look, giving advice and encouragement.
“It’s really inspiring to see these boys being so ambitious to do something like this for the community,” Johnson said. “It’s a learning experience for them to build something using carpentry,
and for me, since I’m a machinist.”
As Johnson surveyed the boys’ work, he parried their jokes aimed at his protein shake on a carabiner clipped to his tool belt with wit and a casualness that seemed borne from many months of classtime.
Three seniors were chosen as “team leads” that were in charge of their  crews’ progress on pieces of the tiny house: Jacob Baughman, 17, Ray Destefano, 18, and Bryan Slavin, 18. The guys hammered, measured, moved parts of the tiny house while the other boys in class assembled. Each student seemed to know his task.
“We’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way but it’s going okay,” Baughman said. His team was in charge of the roof. “I like this project because I like to get my hands dirty-”
“­­-with sawdust, he means,” chimed in Destefano with a chuckle.
Rafters and ridge beams and barge rafters were getting organized by his team to create the house’s small “A” frame.
“My dad has a contracting company that I’ve helped out with in the summers so I have a little experience,” Destefano said. “I think it’s good for the team aspect of it. (Slavin) and I played football and I’m doing lacrosse so I like to play on teams.”
Destefano’s team was in charge of the walls, a separate smaller project that was not yet installed but should be put in within the next week.
“This is actually a lot of fun,” Slavin said. “It’s for a good cause and like (Destefano) said, it’s a team project that also makes us more aware of what we can do to get experience with construction, leadership and yeah, making a positive contribution.”
Slavin often focused on measuring out and making cuts with the table saw to pieces of wood, hauling the lumber about or drilling lumber together for the beam support.
C-clamps held part of the structure together, and were taken apart for moving.
The work was done within the second class of the day, but then Johnson proposed they keep working through “Panther Period” to try to finish up a few small sections of the roof.
“I need a tape measure!” called out one student.
Slavin quietly tossed it over to him as he passed by carrying a drill.
The teamwork was impressive, as was the boys’ abilities to communicate with each other without arguing or poking too much fun, perhaps because of the deadline and Johnson’s casual patrol.
The materials are being funded through a $2,500 grant from the state Career Technical Education system.

A student works on part of the tiny house.

The teams of students building the tiny house at Snohomish High School were working on the framework of the home on Wednesday, March 8. The house will be shown at a showcase of skills in Olympia at the end of the month.

The students' essay
Before construction began, the students wrote why they wanted to build the tiny house after the school received a $2,500 grant to build it. They wrote:
“The homeless community in Snohomish Country greatly impacts our city. Our town is greatly affected by a quickly growing homeless community. They are forced to live along our beautiful river sides and park their cars along our road sides. On average, over half of each year in Washington state is storm weather such as rain, thunder storms and lighting/wind storms. For somebody without a house, shelter may be hard to find causing them to become ill and require medical treatment. The conditions of being homeless is degrading on both mental and physical health. The constant of being wet affects ones’ health with problems such as trench foot. Trench foot can cause serious health issues including the possibility of losing your feet.
Having a house is more than staying dry, it helps self-esteem. Building a home for a community member would help boost productivity. It’s proven that a homeless person who’s given a shelter to live, will improve in physical and mental health. The Snohomish community is about giving and sharing, with the building of this house it will hopefully start a long-lasting project for those in need; our homeless community members. The house built will also decrease costs going towards helping the homeless. The building of the house will benefit both the builders and the receiver. The house will give the builders much needed experience for future projects, and it will bring awareness, and show a clear example of what is expected of the Snohomish community. The students of Snohomish High School want to take charge and help our community while also earning skills required in carpentry.”


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