Home Building

Guest Opinion

Home Building

The 2015 Senior Class of Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School – 439 students – will build a house as a group. This is a first time effort as explained in the Gazette article of June 10, 2014. Kennedy’s principal, Jason Kline, wanted a project that would unify the class around something that benefits the community; he commented that “every student needs to be involved”. Students will fundraise and help with the construction, landscaping and every aspect of this Habitat for Humanity project. As one individual involved with this said “I think there’s something for everyone”. Hats off to Kennedy’s principal, staff and student body.

The Iowa City Community School District was once a leader in home-building curriculum. With the involvement of the Homebuilders Association, district students were able to construct 39 homes with student labor. The impact on their lives cannot be measured by a standardized test. It’s unfortunate that, like in our present situation, this program was cut in order to save $60,000. Although some programming is being brought back, it is nowhere close to what we had done in the past. Anyone who tries to tell you that building a playhouse is equivalent to building a home is throwing sawdust in your eyes. Like German, French, orchestra, 7th grade football and other curricular opportunities we take from our students, the impact will forever change their lives’ trajectory.

Opportunities and curriculum have to be fought for and our community needs to stand strong not to have our standards compromised.

I felt so strongly about the homebuilding program that I submitted a poem to the Poetry in the Public – it didn’t make the cut, like the homebuilding program, but I will provide it below.

The Students Built A House

With muscles and brains

The students built a house

Their lives forever changed

The students built a house

Why can’t it happen now?

The students built a house

It seems we’ve forgotten how

Phil Hemingway
January 28, 2014