United Township building a future with construction skills

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Phil Hahn is building his future with home construction. The United Township High School sophomore, 15, is helping a crew of students and teachers at 1808 10th Ave. in Silvis.

This is a summer program that takes brains and brawn.

"I've worked with siding and roofing with my dad," he said. "But you don't get to start with the house from the ground up and see it come together like I do on this."

This future home is part of U-T's Building Trades program. The longtime effort has been around nearly 40 years. This will be house number 25.

Teenagers are spending more than two weeks volunteering on-site.

"The house is going to last over 100 years," said teacher Chad Blunt. "That really impacts them when they see a completed project."

For students, the program is a chance to innovate and explore. It's the kind of hands-on work that can build careers.

Senior Dakota Klein uses practical math and problem-solving skills. He plans to become a carpenter.

"It feels kind of good that you actually know what you're doing a little bit," he said. "Be able to put all this together."

A federal Lights-On for Learning grant helps to expand the school day into the summer. Students who participate during the school year and guests can devote more time to the tasks at hand.

"In a situation like this, we're able to do a lot of things that could not happen during the school day because of time restrictions," said U.T. Principal Carl Johnson.

It will take about two years to finish the house, which is the third on the block to be designed and built by U.T's program. There's room for about seven more houses on 10th Avenue.

For Phil Hahn, there are lasting lessons from the build site.

"This gives me the experience to see what will work, and what won't work," he concluded. "It really does spark me."