By Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Vocational students from across West Virginia are building tiny houses to help some people struggling to recover from flooding this year.

Students from 12 vocational schools are designing and building the houses, which will be presented to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin next month, The Charleston Gazette-Mail ( reported.

The project is a partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education and the Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment, an umbrella organization for various long-term recovery committees in each of the affected counties.

“This is a phenomenal learning experience for our students in West Virginia, but the bigger learning experience is taking ownership of being a citizen of West Virginia and giving back to your community when you can,” said Kathy D’Antoni, chief officer of career and technical education for the state Department of Education. “It’s not just the nice thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.”

Tiny houses have various sizes but are generally between 100 and 400 square feet. Some are portable. Each of the houses will look different.

“It’s quite innovative,” said Sen. John Unger, who helped set up the recovery committees. “I don’t know of other places that do that. FEMA has indicated that that’s very unusual - what West Virginia is doing. We’re really trying to break new ground by doing this.”

Carver Career and Technical Education Center is involving all of its students in the project. Carpentry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC and drafting students are building the house, while students from other programs are working on furnishing the house and stocking its kitchen with donated food, Principal Phillip Calvert said.

A quick turnaround for the houses has made the project somewhat hectic, said carpentry instructor Tom Bradley. The students had 28 days and a $20,000 budget to design and build their 8-foot-by-12-foot house, Bradley said. Homes typically take a full year from start to move-in, he said.

Nicholas Chapman, a carpentry student and a senior at Capital High School, said the students still need to do interior work on the house: hanging sheet rock and installing flooring and cabinets.

“It’s been pretty fun,” Chapman said. “It’s been a bigger learning experience than anything else we’ve taken on so far. It’s bigger than any other project we’ve done, so it’s getting us ready for the real work experience.”


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,

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