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Murray High Students Begin Two-year Project House

Nov 06, 2015 09:48AM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

When Murray High construction management students put down their hammers in the spring of 2017, a three-bedroom home, complete with walk-in closets, a jetted bath tub, a kitchen with an island, cherry cabinets and walnut flooring, and an open living room with a fireplace will be built on a dirt lot on the corner of 700 West and Tripp Lane.

In September, 16 students, under the direction of skilled and technology education teacher Quinn Drury, began by having the basement dug; by mid-October, they were already framing the downstairs.

The 3,600-square foot house is part of Murray High’s construction management program, where students get hands-on experience from concrete and framing to finishing work, Drury said.

“These students are getting real-world experience from scheduling, estimating and sub-contracting, to learning how to build the home each step of the way,” he said.

Before students start with the project house, they must first complete at least one woodshop class. Then, once enrolled in the construction class, students study their textbook for basic knowledge and terminology before proceeding with each phase of building the home. There are classroom assignments that tie into the house project as well, Drury said.

During the first year, students will work afternoons at the house structure, learning framing, cement work, flat work, roofing, windows, installing doors and drywall, painting, tiling, putting in hardwood floors and cabinets and other house construction. During the second year, students will learn finishing techniques. During the two-year stint, students can put in as much as 1,000 hours into building the home, Drury said.

During that time, the students will earn 16 college credit hours as juniors and seniors through Salt Lake Community College’s concurrent enrollment program, as well as their high school credit, and can earn scholarships. Last year, all five seniors earned full-tuition scholarships, Drury said.

“Getting scholarships for these students is huge. They’re motivated and hard-working good students who have learned a lot of skills and can build a home from start to finish,” he said.

Students can also put their learned skills to the test through entering Skills USA competitions, Drury said. Traditionally, Murray High students do well regionally, as well as at state and nationals.

The students also learn to work with others, such as teaming up with Granite Technical Institute and SLCC for plumbing, electrical and cabinetry work.  Throughout the process, teachers watch closely. If something goes wrong, students re-do it, which provides a learning opportunity as well as a safety net.

The idea of students building a home began 22 years ago when then career and technical education director Clayne Poulsen introduced the concept and became a visionary of the program. For the past 20 years, Drury has led the program.

However, he is quick to say that the program succeeds with both high school and Murray School District administration support. 

Drury said that once students complete homes, they are sold and the money is rechanneled into buying property for future years of building more homes. Already, the district has approved funding for lots in Murray for the next three homes after the current one is completed. 

Administrators and school board members also support students and come to their open house, when students lead visitors through the rambler that will also feature a full basement and three-car garage. They learn from students all about the home, from flatwork concrete, framing, footing and insulation, to tile and hardwood flooring, three-tone painting, railings and finish trim.

“The state recently released five-star jobs of the future in terms of high wages and high demand, and both construction management and construction supervisor were on the list. This is a great opportunity that Murray School District provides for students to learn first-hand about those careers,” he said.

This is the fourth home across from Riverview Junior High that Murray High students have built in recent years. 

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