Shed project gives students on-ground building experience |

Shed project gives students on-ground building experience

CARBONDALE, Colorado – A new educational program aimed at taking what high school students learn in the classroom out into the real world starts small with its first official project this weekend.

Four Roaring Fork High School students will be busy Sunday working with local builders at a ranch outside Carbondale on the inaugural Houses for Higher Education “barn-raising” project.

Rather than a house, or even a full-scale barn for that matter, the students will be “raising” a loafing shed that they designed. The shed will provide shelter for horses on Ron and Lisa Speaker’s ranch.

It’s the start of bigger things to come, said Aaron Garland, a Yampah Mountain High School teacher and Carbondale resident who helped found Houses for Higher Education (H4HE) last year.

“This is a very exciting moment for this project,” Garland said. “We have begun to develop a model that is project-driven, where students are challenged to work closely with real customers, and to stay on schedule, meet budgets and all the other expectations that come with that.”

The organization was founded with the help of longtime Roaring Fork Valley education philanthropist George Stranahan and local builder Mike Regan of Regan Construction.

Ultimately, H4HE’s goal is to teach high school students from throughout the valley how to work with real clients to build houses, from planning and design to completion. Proceeds from the projects would be used to fund college scholarships.

But, given the current slump in the local real estate market, the first few projects will be on a smaller scale, Garland said.

“A horse shed, as simple as that sounds, has about 75 percent of concepts you would use in planning, designing and building a house,” he said.

RFHS juniors Caitlin Kinney, Mia Wedemeyer and Feenagh O’Donnell Pax, along with sophomore Paul Roman, worked with architect Andrea Korber at Land + Shelter in Carbondale to design the loafing shed.

Regan then mentored the students on how to determine the materials needed, estimate costs and build a scale model.

On Sunday, with guidance from professional builders, the students will construct the shed.

“Our goal is to finish most of it on Sunday, though we may have some work to finish on the roof later,” Garland said.

Future projects could include greenhouses, chicken coops, sheds, additions to existing structures, and small-scale houses.

H4HE is currently working to develop curriculum around the program, and to expand the number of students and schools involved, Garland said.

“We have been looking to introduce a program like this into students’ already busy schedules,” he said. “In the coming years, more and more students will have access to this kind of experience, which demonstrates to them the relevance of their classroom studies.

“What we want students to learn is that when you build something, you build it twice; first in your mind and on paper, and then on the ground,” Garland said.

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