Bridges students develop skills building homes

Bridges students develop jobs skills while building homes, sense of community
Posted on 05/17/2023

Eighteen students showed off their hard work at 421 4th St. in Green Bay after months of building a home as a part of the Bridges Construction & Renovation program. 

Families, friends and local leaders gathered to tour the home and celebrate the students on May 16. Students in the class represented East, John Dewey Academy of Learning, Preble and West High Schools.

Bridges Construction & Renovation is an educational pathway within the Green Bay Area Public School District in partnership with Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity, NeighborWorks Green Bay, the Brown County Home Builders Association and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. 

Bridges offers students a community-based, hands-on learning experience in the construction and renovation industries.

Students work with professional contractors to learn about structural design, building safety, blueprint reading, rough and finish construction, modern design and home improvements. 

Students also explore the application of carpentry, masonry, home wiring, plumbing and architectural design.

At the celebration, Bridges Instructor Brian Frerk presented students with a toolbelt full of tools and shared each student’s future plans. 

One student proudly held up his work smock from LaForce, as he’s already landed a job with the company. Many students in the class said they intend to pursue working in the trades after high school. 

Other students said they were going to take the skills they learned in the course and use them to pursue careers in industries like forestry and the Coast Guard.

Students coming out of the course are career ready, but they are also already making an impact on their community.

President and CEO of NeighborWorks Green Bay, Noel Halvorsen gave thanks to the students for their hard work as they not only built a house, but also a sense of community for the future owner.

“This home will be sold to an owner-occupant who we hope will become an engaged neighbor in this part of the community and be proud of the home that they will live in, that these folks have built,” Halvorsen said.

Halvorsen said that addressing housing needs in the city of Green Bay is critical and requires building more housing, but he also said it’s about partnerships.

“Part of the way we can address [housing needs] is partnering with Green Bay Area Public Schools and the other fine organizations that are a part of this effort so that we can increase the number of people that are going into construction and the trades,” Halvorsen said.

Twenty-four students are already set to enroll in the Bridges Construction & Renovation program for the 2023-2024 school year. Two homes will be built side by side on Day Street on Green Bay’s eastside.

Ten projects have been completed since the inception of Bridges Construction & Renovation, with two more projects to be finished on 4th Street and Doty Street when the 2022-2023 school year comes to an end.

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