Bluejay Build Team hard at work on house for local family
The sounds of drills and staple guns can be heard daily, inside the ranch style house that sits on the campus of Merrill High School. Students are hard at work with yellow hard hats; building a house for a low-income family in their construction class.
The Bluejay Build Team is a partnership between MAPS and the Merrill Area Housing Authority to build houses for low income housing. The Merrill Housing Authority purchases the lot and foots the bill and students get to gain experience at skilled labor jobs and do everything to code. The Merrill Area Housing Authority (MAHA), Merrill Senior High School and City of Merrill announced The Bluejay Build Team Project in November 2016. This initiative jump-started the traditional home build project of the high school Tech Ed building construction class. It had been three years since the Merrill High School building construction class built a house before 2018. Students like Allan Luedtke and Brady Haynes helped with not only last year’s house, but are working on this year’s house as well.
“This is a really good work experience for us and kind of a one-of-a-kind experience in high school,” senior Allan Luedtke said.
It has become a more popular option for students, as there are a dozen students in the class now, after just a handful three years ago.
Despite a bit of a late start this year, the students are still hoping to be done with the house by the end of the school year. “It’s pretty shocking how fast things are getting done. This is a great and hard-working group of kids.” teacher Tim Osborn said. For the students, the program provides training and education of skilled trades. All of the students who worked on the first house landed paid summer internships with program sponsors. The sponsor list includes Lincoln Windows, Finishing Touch Signs, Stratford Homes, Hall Drywall, Krueger Plumbing, Wisconsin Building Supply and RTL Electric. They all made commitments to donate time, materials or funding and MAHA retains ownership of the Bluejay Build Team houses, which will be rented to qualifying families at affordable rates.
“It’s pretty neat to be doing this and driving past the house we built last year and know it’s helping out the community,” Luedtke said.