That’s the first word that comes to mind after touring McKee Homes’ two new Building Futures show homes on Reynolds Avenue in Cooper’s Crossing.
Building Futures is a unique out-of-school learning program that teaches students about the home building industry, working with various industry experts and trades to help build a home literally from the ground up. Participating students also each completed a personal project, on display in the homes, ranging from an equine tack storage box; to wall shelving, desks, tables, a catio and more – each with a short write-up attached explaining the project.
As a leading Airdrie home builder, McKee Homes is passionate not just about building homes, but about bettering the community in which they live, work and raise their own families. This is their tenth year partnering with Rocky View School Division (RVSD) to support the program, which has seen 330 students frame, hang and then pass through its doors.
“Students are involved in everything from surveying the empty lot to the final marketing,” says Ryan Doel, sales and marketing manager for McKee Homes. “The kids picked all the interior design selections. We even had a mortgage expert come in to explain that part of the business to them. They all started their individual projects in early May, putting together plans and getting approvals before starting, just like on any construction project.”
The journey begins in grade 9, where the students apply for the Building Futures program, which basically immerses them in the industry for their entire grade 10 year, says Sherry McAllister, construction superintendent for McKee Homes and project manager for Building Futures.
Each student submits a written application and has an interview with RVSD and the Building Futures teachers prior to being accepted. There are no extra fees, and McKee Homes provides all personal protective equipment and safety training. All students are required to do is buy their own pair of steel-toed boots. The process beings in March, with program information available at rvsclc.rockyview.ab.ca/programs/building-futures.
The students, from George McDougall, W. H. Croxford and Bert Church high schools, are on-site all day, every day, working in shifts of four at a time, learning from experienced tradespeople, and participate in all aspects of construction, except for work over the height of 10 feet. Students take regular grade 10 curriculum classes in a makeshift classroom in a garage down the street when they’re not working on the homes.
While the program certainly provides a solid foundation for anyone wanting a career in the home building industry, not all students will choose that path, so academic success is emphasized with students benefitting greatly from having the same two teachers and same classmates in the same room every day. And, of course, they earn extra construction credits that count towards their total school credits.
If you’d like to see more photos of the project, visit www.instagram.com/buildingfutures.airdrie/