15th Project For Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services Completed By Parkside Students

Drive down Rose Street in Salisbury and you’ll catch a glimpse of more than a half-dozen homes built entirely by Parkside High School students.

The homes are part of an ongoing partnership between Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services and Parkside High School that started more than 20 years ago.

SNHS is a local nonprofit serving community members through partnerships to increase home ownership and cultivate sustainable neighborhoods in Salisbury and surrounding areas.

“When I became the Executive Director of SNHS in 2000, the Board of Education approached us about partnering on a home that was built by the school for a family that wasn’t able to follow through with building the house,” said Cheryl Meadows. “We had a vacant lot for the home, so the timing was perfect.”

The partnership evolved over time to provide an opportunity for SNHS to take on a yearly new-construction project where the nonprofit paid for the building materials and the school district provided the labor as part of its curriculum. 

“This meant we could pass along the house at an affordable price to the buyers,” added Meadows.

Last week, SNHS announced the near completion of another new home construction project with Wicomico County Public Schools. 

This year’s project marks the 15th house built by Parkside carpentry students for SNHS.

The 1,200-square-foot home is scheduled for completion by May. By the end of the school year the house will have finished flooring, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and its first coat of paint.

Expert house movers will move the home from the Parkside campus, where it is being built, to a vacant lot on Tilghman Street in Salisbury, where it will be sold.

Carpentry education

With 14 years of carpentry experience under his belt, there’s no better instructor to teach high school students how to build a house from the ground up than Parkside’s Blair Ritchey. 

“Our Level 1 students start off building sheds, to learn the fundamentals of carpentry,” said Ritchey. “Similar concept as a house, just on a smaller scale.

“The Level 2 carpentry students have a full school year to build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. We incorporate students who are studying other trades when the time is right,” he said. “They step in to fit the house out with plumbing and HVAC.” 

Parkside Junior Autumn Davis signed up for carpentry because she wants to be an interior designer when she graduates.  

“I wanted to know the basics of building before I go into design,” said Davis. “It will help me when I go to a jobsite and need to direct others on how to build something into the interior or exterior design of a house or business.” 

Senior Dylan Dorr has plans to go into the Navy upon graduation and one day own his own construction company.

“I am very neat and detail oriented,” said Dorr. “My favorite part was framing the roof because the measurements must be exact for the lumber to fit. I think that’s why I enjoyed learning how to use a measuring tape with precision.”

Junior Storm Hartman has similar plans to start his own construction business but admitted to having more fun with the circular saw.

“Cutting the wood for the frame of the house was my favorite part. I liked the framing too because you get to see it all come together, off the ground quickly,” said Hartman.  

Ritchey says the wind is typically their biggest enemy but as in all learning environments, mistakes and miscalculations can disrupt the process.  

“I let my students make mistakes because I think that’s the best way for them to learn,” added Richey. “Sometimes it’s painful to watch but when it happens, we work together to problem solve and then get back to work to make it right.”  

“For our seniors, this is their culminating project that they take a lot of pride in because it has a long-term impact in our community,” said Bryan Ashby, supervisor for Career & Technical Education for Wicomico County Public Schools.

“You know the students have a great rapport with Blair because any minute of flex time they have in their schedule, they spend with him working on the house,” Ashby said. “They trust him because he is safety conscious and extends as much responsibility to them as possible which is the best preparation for future employment in the trades.”       

“Now is an attractive time for our students to be involved in projects of this magnitude because of the demand for a quality workforce in the trades,” added Ashby. “This is the beginning of their pathway to employment. We have had many students take the skills they learned at Parkside with them into professional jobs, making sizable incomes, doing what they love. If you ask me, that’s a win for everyone.”

Article relayed from Salisbury Independent. Linked here.


SNHS is a Chartered Member of the NeighborWorks Network | SNHS is a member of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce

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