Laying the Foundation

Providence Career & Technical Academy gives students real-life construction experience through home build

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It’s one thing to operate equipment and use tools in shop class, but building a house takes those skills to another level. That’s the experience nearly 150 juniors and seniors, plus more than 100 freshmen and sophomore shadows, from the Providence Career & Technical Academy (PCTA) are gaining as they build a Blackstone Street home from the ground up.

The project is a joint effort by the school, City, State, and Casa Buena Builders, Inc. According to Noel Sanchez, Casa Buena’s president, the project took almost three years to get off the ground. Funding came from multiple grants, and when the 770-square-foot home is completed later this year, the proceeds will be rolled over to seed the school’s next
construction project.

Managing the project and supervising the students requires collaboration. “We usually have at least one Casa Buena employee, such as a carpenter, working with the students on-site,” says Noel. “We try to help them learn what we’re doing but let them do a lot of the work. We watch for the quality of the construction so when the work is done the house will be in good shape and pass all the inspections.”

PCTA carpentry teachers Ronald Carreiro and Robert DiSalvo oversee the students who alternate a week of classroom studies with a week on-site. “The kids are working on everything,” says Ronald. “They have to calculate, lay out, and cut the roof, for instance.” Working with Casa Buena facilitates the project: “As teachers, we are there teaching and directing. Casa Buena handles permits, getting lumber there on time – it’s really helpful to have a partner.”

As of mid-May, the home’s roof and interior framing were finished and the students were installing siding. The project likely will carry over into the fall semester, says Noel, who wants to keep the students working in construction over the summer break. “I’m hopeful that other contractors will join me in hiring some of the students for the summer – that’s one of my big ambitions.”

Contact 952-4229 for more details.