Clarke Community School’s building trades classes have long been credited for sending students on to continuing education or even excelling them into careers with outstanding base construction skills. From core planning and design to understanding the contracting relationships necessary to bring a building to fruition, the Clarke program works to guide students through every phase of the building process. Recent projects have taken the students out of the classroom and into the real world with collaborative efforts with SWCC, the City of Osceola as well as a number of local contractors, electricians, and plumbers.
In early 2023, Clarke’s Middle and High School Building Trades Instructor, Mike White, kicked off discussions with the City to bring back the Osceola Student Building Trades program, building one new home per year. This was a way to offer practical experience to Clarke students while answering demand for housing throughout the city.
“This is a truly an example of ‘Two birds one stone’,” said Osceola’s Mayor, Thomas Kedley. “Our students get 100% practical construction experience, and our community grows with new, beautiful homes.”
The current new home project Clarke students are working on is located at the corner of Highway 69 and Shaw Streets, just off Osceola’s historic square. The design for the home consists of 1,250 square feet with 3-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, and an attached 2 car garage. It is also placed on a foundation with a full, unfinished basement.
Located in an infill lot that’d suffered from a fire in recent years, the original structure’s demolition opened up development opportunities that the school and city agreed made the ideal project site to retore the student program. Utilizing available infrastructure and infill lots also assures blighted locations or vacant lots around the city remain viable, active parts of Osceola’s established residential base without investing in more extensive development efforts.
“As it stands, the city has about 30-years of inventory,” Superintendent DeVore said of the community’s infill lots. “This is a perfect program to keep properties in play while giving our students the hands-on experience necessary to learn and go on to good careers , leaving a legacy on their community they can be proud of.”
Along with new home construction, the students are also building out new Clarke campus structures to help the continuing development of the Clarke sports complex.
“Every class is a flurry of activity,” said Mr. White of his building trades students. “If we’re not out raising joists on the new concession stand, we’re in class working on design updates or specs for our local contractors.”
CLICK TO VIEW A VIDEO OF THE CLARKE BUILDING TRADES PROGRAM’S MOST RECENT PROJECT:
Partnering with local electricians, plumbers, roofers, and others has allowed the Clarke program to offer high industry quality in all of their developments. To reduce the risk and liability to the Clarke students, the SWCC building trades classes also provide support the with any construction above 8-1/2 feet.
“This is a true collaboration at all levels, “said White. ‘Without the City’s support, local contractors, and SWCC’s participation, practical learning opportunities like this would be very limited.”
One collaboration that’s in full swing, from design to construction, is that with Ryan Lundquist from Osceola’s Highway Lumber. He and his team are taking design information and plans for the roofing and helping the Clarke student with equipment and guidance in each stage of the concession stand and new home construction.
The projects the Clarke students are currently working on are slated to be completed before the end of the 2023-24 school year. The home at the corner of Highway 69 and Shaw is already enclosed and roofed with electrical and plumbing contractors providing the higher level fish-work. The concession stand between the Clarke baseball/softball fields and tennis courts will also be done for the upcoming Spring and Summer sporting events. It will lead to state-of-the-art wiring and lighting as well as expanded equipment storage and security for all Clarke teams.