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Manson High School students build BIG on a ‘Tiny Project’

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(Photo courtesy of Manson School District)

Passionate teachers, a superintendent’s vision and GEAR UP funds help start a new Tiny House Program at Manson High School.

Manson High School has a ‘Tiny Project’ that is gaining BIG momentum. A few years ago, innovative Manson teacher Kevin Sanford, a general contractor prior to teaching, proposed creating a class in which students would design and construct a Tiny House.

Funding wasn’t available for two years to purchase equipment necessary for such a class, so the dream sat on the shelf until carryover dollars became available from Manson’s GEAR UP program last year. Manson Superintendent Matt Charlton approached Sanford and proposed renovating the vocational technology department to purchase the woodworking tools needed to construct the Tiny House. GEAR UP approved the plan!

Manson High School proudly commissioned their new Tiny House Class in 2017 as an elective that students can choose each trimester.

(Photo courtesy of Manson School District)

There are currently 16 students in the Tiny House class. Two student project managers delegate the workflow on a daily basis, while students designed floorplans, sketched elevation plans, and built seven different prototypes of the Tiny House out of balsa wood.

Over the course of three days, community members, teachers, and students were invited to vote on their favorite prototype. The “winner” of the was chosen, and students went to work planning the construction of the house.

Students will participate in every step: design, framing, plumbing, electrical, insulation, drywall, siding, roofing, finishes.

“The Tiny House class is not only timely and applicable  for our students in the valley because of the nature of the growing construction field in our area, but it is also very beneficial,” Manson educators Kari Peterson and Addie Velasco said. “There are needs in our community for a commodity like this; with the rising prices of homes in the area and the lack of low-income housing, we are continually struggling to find affordable housing.”

(Photo courtesy of Manson School District)

Velasco and Petersen believe that the Tiny House project will serve as a means to generate jobs and housing possibilities for the Manson community. They said that there are local contractors who have expressed concern for the decreasing number of people entering the construction-field trades and have already vowed to hire students out of the class for summer jobs.

There are currently seven people that have contacted Sanford to purchase one of Manson High School’s Tiny Houses. “After the sale of our first Tiny House, we will be able to use the funds to purchase the materials for our second house and create a sustainable program,” Sanford said.

Velasco and Petersen explained that MHS’s partnership Central Washington University’s GEAR UP program has awarded Manson the opportunity to further develop their vocational department and expand students’ vision and possibilities through the hands-on experience involved in designing and constructing a house.

(Submitted by Kari Petersen and Addie Velasco, edited by Christine Eagar)

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