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Class helps teens build their futures

Skills learned by building trades students at the Whiteside Area Career Center won’t show up on standardized tests, but the students will come away with many valuable abilities.

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 4:09 p.m. CDT

Standardized tests in high schools focus on math, science and language arts, to the exclusion of other important knowledge.

If the state ever devises a test to gauge useful life skills taught to high schoolers, it ought to include the skills taught by the Building and Construction Trades program at the Whiteside Area Career Center in Sterling.

Building trades students are close to completing the rehabilitation of a house in Rock Falls. The project was featured in a recent Sauk Valley Media story.

Here is what the students have done the past year:

– Replaced the roof and siding.

– Replaced the porches, front and back.

– Installed new electrical wiring.

– Installed new plumbing.

– Put up new drywall.

– Installed new windows and doors.

Up next for the class:

– Install flooring (hardwood, tile and carpet).

– Paint walls.

– Install cabinets and fixtures.

– Rehab a detached garage.

– Do some landscaping.

When the work is done, the foreclosed house will be put up for sale by the bank. With two stories, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the house should make a nice home for some family.

And the current crop of building trades students will have learned valuable construction skills, along with traits such as teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Some students will use those skills directly in the construction field.

Others may draw upon them as homeowners.

The career center has offered its building trades class for decades, but low enrollment led to its suspension a year ago. Thankfully, enough students signed up to restore it.

The tough economy also brought a change in focus 3 years ago from building new homes to renovating existing homes.

And who knows? Judging by the large number of home renovation shows on television, building trades students might have a future in front of a TV camera.

Standardized tests won’t gauge how skillfully a student can pound a nail, handle a saw, or wield a paint brush. That doesn’t make those abilities any less valuable.

Congratulations to the Whiteside Area Career Center for imparting a toolbox full of worthwhile skills to its building trades students.

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