Hermiston High School gets kids out of the classrooms, onto the job site

HERMISTON, Oreg. - Hermiston High is getting kids out of the classroom and into the job sites, the school has a new class focused on building homes.

Elizabeth Herrera leaves campus at 1:30pm everyday, not to go to work, but to go to class.

"Being able to learn the basics and building your own shelter and how to fix your own shelter for the future is amazing," said Hermiston junior, Elizabeth Herrera.

What looks like an average construction site, is actually a classroom. It's part of a new program that gives high school students from Hermiston, Stanfield, and Umatilla the chance to build a home, for school credit.

"The learning will take place when they are actually swinging the hammer, using the saw," said program coordinator, Curt Berger.

Paid for by a grant worth nearly $400,000, every year. The project is called Columbia Basin Student Homes, participants team up with local contractors to build single family homes. The goal is one home a year, with the room to build eleven more.

"Every little accomplishment is a really good feeling, because, oh my gosh, we just laid down the foundation, oh my gosh I'm starting to build a wall," said Herrera.

The excitement is obvious with Hermiston junior Elizabeth Herrera, she says she hopes to become an architect after college.

"Even if some of us don't pursue construction, we'll be the friends you call when your plumbing doesn't work or your shed's roof collapses, we'll be the people you call," said Herrera.

"A lot of these students are at the age they could be working for these guys, so everyday is a job interview," said Berger.

A grade is earned on the job.

"They do have to take pride in their craftsmanship, we have to be able to sell this, so this has to be done correctly," said Berger.

"Everything is a huge deal and I can only imagine when we finish this house, it's going to feel amazing for us all," said Herrera.

Hermiston staff say the program is open to any grade level, but plan to make it a senior project in the future.