WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The District of Columbia is no stranger to construction, and a neighborhood on East Capitol Street is now getting a new home thanks to a D.C. non-profit and high school students who designed and will build the structure.
The students broke ground at the site on Wednesday, May 26, to commemorate the start of the project. Kalyn Asbury, who is a senior at McKinley Technology High School and an Intern with the Academy of Construction & Design said, “Seeing it come to life, it just feels like you’re a part of something and you put your input into something so big. We’re going to drive down the street, and a house is going to be here and our name is going to be on it.”
The house will be the second student-built home in the District, thanks to the Academy of Construction & Design. The apprenticeship academy is part of D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation, and has been working with high schoolers since 2005 to propel students into futures they never imagined. Shelly Karriem, the Director of D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation said, “They leave high school, not only with a high school diploma but with a second piece of paper which says to our construction industry, ‘I am career-ready.’ Through the years they can earn up to three different certifications.”
While students are learning the hard skills required for the construction industry, the program goes much deeper. Karriem added, “You can learn a trade all you like, but if you don’t learn the soft skills, the importance of getting to work on time, how to work in a team, how to work in an adverse environment sometimes that you face, but these students learn all of that and much more.”
When asked, the students in the program explained how the program enriches their lives. Asbury said, “I think it just adds hope, especially for the kids in the district. They can walk by and say, oh kids my age built that, I can build something like this.” Ama Akoto, the Program Assistant and former Intern said, “A lot of kids in this program are from Southside D.C., and myself, I live about 10 minutes from here in Southeast, and to be able to live in my neighborhood but also contribute to my
neighborhood in an actual structure is just a symbol of me contributing to my community and improving my community.”
The program founder and director said seeing each student light up as they learn and grow through the program is what it is really all about. John McMahon, the Founder of the academy said, “Once they get in the door, there’s just so many options for them, places to go and careers to build, and that’s the reward: the smile on their face when they walk out the door, and I know they’re going to do well.” Karriem added, “It shows them, ‘Yes, I too can have a bright future,’ and that’s our tag line: building bright futures. That’s what we do every day, with every child.”
Once the home on East Capitol Street is finished it will be sold at market value, and the money made will fund the next project.
Karriem hopes to have students from all D.C. high schools involved in the program. For more information on getting involved, click here.