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AHS students build tiny home homeless shelter


Christopher Andersson

Arlington High School student Willy Hilman does construction work on the roof of a tiny home shelter on March 17 that will be donated to a Seattle homeless shelter village.

Arlington High School students are putting together a small housing unit that will compete in a state "Showcase of Skills" competition and then serve as a homeless shelter in Seattle.

Teacher Scott Striegel said that Washington state put out a "Showcase of Skills" grant this year for $2,500 for schools to participate in the project.

Arlington High School was one of the 22 schools in the state to be accepted.

Students are currently building the small homeless shelter unit and hope to finish it by March 19 for the competition in Olympia.

"They gave us all the same blueprints," said Striegel, so the competition will likely be based on "your ability to build to the specifications," he said.

This is the first year the state has done the competition, said Striegel.

After the contest the units will be sent to Seattle where they will be part of one of the city's "tiny house" shelters.

The tiny homes provide small, usually one-room, bare necessities houses for homeless individuals and are meant to be an inexpensive way to provide better living conditions for an expanding homeless population.

Students are participating as part of a construction geometry class which usually constructs other buildings like sheds.

This year, though, five students get to build a shelter for the Olympia competition and have been working on the project since early December.

Striegel said that the community service aspect has helped motivate students.

"The kids actually get quite excited when they hear it is for a homeless encampment rather than just building a shed for somebody to buy," he said.

"Seeing this be connected to an issue we're seeing all over the news with the homeless in Seattle is huge because I think they get a personal connection," said Arlington High School math teacher Mike Gudgeon.

Arlington High School sophomore Noah Sawdon said he liked that the project was for a good cause.

"It's for the homeless so I'm super excited that we get to build this and provide it to someone who doesn't have the money to get a home," he said.

Christopher Andersson

Arlington High School sophomore Caden Smith brings a board up to the roof of a tiny home shelter on March 17 that will eventually be donated to a Seattle homeless shelter village.

"I just like the fact that we're able to give back to the community, said Arlington High School student Grady Falk, "to help people that don't have the best of situations right now."

Students learn about construction and math in the class.

"We essentially build these to housing/building codes, so they get to learn a lot of the aspects of building a regular house, without building a full size one," said Striegel.

Sawdon said he has learned about a lot of aspects of construction.

"I've learned how to make walls and roofs, everything really," he said.

The project and the class in general also provides students a way to learn about geometry in a practical way.

"Doing the geometry in real-life is really helping them with the math side of the class," said Gudgeon.

"I like the hands-on ability. It's different from all other math classes at this school," said Falk.


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