Merrill construction class gets hands-on opporunity in their community

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 4:40 PM CST
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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - The Merrill building construction class is getting a first-hand look at being on a construction site. Normally the students would build a house with the Merrill Housing Authority. This year the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted them to help renovate an office space for the Merrill Housing authority.

“Last year we built a house at the school. This year we went off-site and we’ve already learned so much from that,” Merrill senior Tavius Morris said.

Jordan Kratz is the teacher for the building construction class. He says over the two years he has taught the class, the benefits of hands-on learning are clear. Especially when you have to battle for students’ attention.

“I have to tell them ‘Put away your phone’ or ‘Put away your iPad’. That’s something they’re glued to you know,” Kratz said. “But we get them in front of something hands-on, they start making that sawdust fly, they grab that hammer and start banging some nails, they get fired up about it.”

The students get to utilize tools and skills that are used on a construction site. In fact, some of the students are already using those skills for the construction crews they work for.

“I used almost all the skills in class and took it over there. I learned some new skills there and I was able to bring them back to class. I was able to show everyone else certain things,” Morris said.

After graduation, some of the students will pursue a career in construction. Some students might never put a hard hat on ever again. But the hope is the skills the students take from the course will stay with them.

“I don’t care if they never swing a hammer again after this class. I don’t care if you don’t do anything related to the construction field. These are the skills that they will have and do on their own instead of having to hire somebody to come in and do it,” Kratz said.

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