Not many high-school students get to leave a physical mark on the county where they grew up, but for almost 70 C.S. Monroe Technology Center students that is exactly what will happen.
Over the next two years, the students will construct a single-family home on a 1.25-acre lot along Gum Springs Road in Aldie, which was donated by Greenvest LLC, and is north of the Kirkpatrick Farms residential development.
"It would be easy to say that building another house in Loudoun County is no big deal," Schools Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick said before the groundbreaking, "but this is a big deal."
Supervised by their Monroe instructors, the students will work during the school day at different intervals, depending on what part of the project they are responsible for. In all, the students will be accountable for the home's building and construction, welding, landscaping, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and computer network.
"This project gives students a chance to work in the field and get hands-on experience," C.S. Monroe Principal Wagner Grier said. "They will be working side by side with their instructors who are professionals in their field."
This is the 10th residential house built by C.S. Monroe students and the first full two-story project. The last home, which is located next to Loudoun County High School, was built in 2004 and sold for $329,000. The new house will be 3,300 square feet, a large jump from the 2004 house, which was 1,700 square feet. The average single-family detached home in Loudoun County is 3,000 square feet.
JOHN CLUBB, a senior who spoke at the Monday, May 15, groundbreaking, helped to build the 2004 house and told his fellow students the benefits the project gave him.
"This hands-on experience gave me a good sense of the real work place," the 18-year-old said. "Just remember that you are a representative of Monroe Technology Center and do a good job."
The quality of the work done by the students has never been an issue, Grier said.
"Because this house is theirs completely, they have a vested interest in seeing it turn out well," he said.
Many of the speakers at the groundbreaking talked about the legacy the students would have the opportunity to leave.
"A permanent part of you will continue to live on in this house," Hatrick said. "You will be able to point out with pride the part you played in this house that will become some family's home."
Indeed, Clubb said one of the best parts about participating in the home building project is its permanence.
"That's something that is going to be here forever," he said, referring to the 2004 project. "It is a good feeling to be able to say you built that and it is still there."
PRIDE IS A large part of the project for many of the students and professionals involved.
"This project will reinforce their skills and give them practice in building houses," Grier said, "but one of the biggest things they will get is a lot of self-worth, knowing when they drive by the site that they did that."
During his speech before the groundbreaking, Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) told the students that they were a part of a larger movement and that their influence went beyond simply building a structure.
"It is essential that we have educated people [in these fields] as we continue the growth of America," he said. "You are a part of something really unique. You are bringing communities together and bringing a dream to reality."