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High school students take on building project

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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With a little strength, time and sweat, a group of youth from Rocklin have created a permanent structure for Whitney High School. It took more than 200 hours of service, but 23 teens built a 24-by-48-foot storage center to house the ground’s equipment for the school. The hands-on project had the students framing the structure, installing solar lighting, putting up dry walls and painting the exterior green. “They really did this from the ground up,” said Sherry Mauser, Whitney High School assistant principal. Mauser oversaw the process and was instrumental in getting the $25,000 grant that funded the project. She contacted Golden Sierra, an employment and training service for people in Placer, Alpine and El Dorado counties and a partnership was formed. Sharon Williams, a summer youth coordinator for Golden Sierra, said President Barak Obama’s stimulus project gave money for summer programs. “They encouraged the agencies to get bids on either in-school projects or some of our projects are out-of-school projects,” Williams said. The grant went toward the purchase of materials, safety equipment like hard hats and salaries for the adults on-site, Mauser said. The district also contributed some money from their facilities fund for the construction of a larger building. The teens are paid as well and for many it was their first job. “It’s been a real learning project for these kids,” Williams said. Williams was on-site to also oversee that child labor laws were upheld, such as no one under 18-years-old on the ladder. Many of the students, both from Rocklin and Whitney high schools, had never taken on construction jobs before. But with a little assistance from experts, they became knowledgable in Computer-Aided Design drawings, how to put up dry wall and build the frame. Kyle Balance, 19, and a recent Whitney High School grad, said his favorite aspect of the project was the framing and said he was impressed with how quickly it went up. Rocklin High School junior Alessio Alba said he enjoyed the more computer-related aspect. “I liked using the CAD system,” he said. The group came up with computer drawings, which paved the way for the beginning of the project in June. From start to finish, the students were deeply involved, Mauser said. “Everybody worked as a team on this one,” she said. Last week, the students were in the last stages, finishing up the drywall and getting ready to paint the interior. Whitney High School student Mike Mello said although he’d never been part of a construction project, it is something he has enjoyed. “This is fun,” he said. “I like working with my hands, being out in the field.” Rocklin High School student John Wong has a four-mile commute on his bike to get to the project site everyday, but has been dedicated, Mauser said. His father owns a door company, so he’s been around construction before and may pursue a career in the construction field, he said. This hands-on opportunity may have aided his future career. Construction of the space was complete Wednesday and the students will be recognized at the Rocklin Unified School District school board meeting Aug. 5. Lauren Weber can be reached at laurenw@goldcountrymedia.com.