A team of teachers and students are building Holliston High School’s first tiny house, a profitable project-based learning activity teaching students life skills and how to work within a budget.
“The tiny house project was a coming together of ideas” which eventually formed into a plan with a desirable due date and budget, said Ms. Jenna Galster, math department leader and one of the team leaders of the tiny house project.
The project was originally supposed to take a year, but the delayed start in February and only two hours of work a day presents the project to be completed by the end of the school year.
“The process is slow… but it’s ok… it’s a learning experience,” said Ms. Galster.
Classes such as Construction Tech, AP Physics II, and Building and Protecting Wealth are the main classes involved in this project. Administration is encouraging the involvement of more classes to give the project a final finish.
The main purpose of the tiny house is to provide kids with a chance to operate and learn in the real world while earning money.
The tiny house will consist of two floors a loft and a lower level which is an ideal size for one to three people. The estimated price for the house can fluctuate whether the house is standard or upgraded, but as of now, the selling price is around $30,000, according to Ms. Galster.
This is the first time the tiny house project has been in the works at HHS. The project is run by Mr. Tom Leveque, who teaches construction tech, Mr. Doug Calais, a special educator, Mr. Patrick Kelley, the vice principal of HHS, and Ms. Galster.
“It’s different – usually, we do projects for ourselves, but this time it’s for other people,” said senior Nicholas Leblanc, who is working on the project.
Even though Leblanc isn’t going into the field of construction, he enjoys the aspects of learning how to build a house. He said that it is a great project for someone wanting to do construction in the future because the class teaches so much.
Like any other project, the tiny house came across some obstacles, which caused a bit of cramming at the end – closer to the summer, as most students would be out of school.
“It takes a lot of work for all [of the teachers] to be free at a certain time and work together for that amount of time,” said Ms. Galster when she indicated time was the biggest constraint.
Leblanc said that his part of the project, the walls, require a lot of double checking. He added that chief’s role is to guide us, but since there are so many groups, there is a lot of time allotted to waiting for him.
Problem-solving is a key lesson students learn in this project.
“We spend a good amount of time thinking of a solution and work to make it happen,” said Leblanc.
Ms. Galster agreed; the project shows students that they can take risks as they gain problem-solving and collaboration skills, and most importantly perseverance.
“The better I do next time, shows how much more I succeeded,” said Ms. Galster. The team believes the only way to get better in future years is to make mistakes that spark change.
She also shares that the team has an important motto, “Live and Learn and Adjust.”
Construction tech is now known for its tiny house project, motivating more students to take the course. Even though students still have a desire to do their own projects in the class, Leblanc said that the tiny house is a “cool experience” in gaining team building skills.
“The class is a very popular course.” It even got waitlisted this year, which could be because of the new project, said Ms. Elisa Ventriglia, a guidance counselor at HHS.
The tiny house, not only has captured the attention of HHS students and faculty, it has also provided the students a means of contributing to a local project while learning new techniques.
Along with seniors and juniors, who are the main workforce for the tiny house, freshmen and sophomores said that they enjoy being part of big projects like it and hope to in years to come.
“In the future years, I would really like to take the class and help contribute to the school community,” said Rose Jessup McDermott, a freshman at HHS.
However, when talking to the team members about future tiny house projects, they had a lot to say.
Ms. Galster jokingly said that she would change “everything” about the project. Mainly, she said, the trailer and choice of plans as they didn’t correlate with each other.
Similarly, Leblanc said that he would want to plan more thoroughly before getting started. He said that the class would start doing something and then would have to undo it because it “wouldn’t fit through the garage door or wasn’t set evenly.”
Despite some of the issues those involved faced, “the tiny house is an amazing example of collaboration within our community. It has been great to see students, faculty, and members of the Holliston community come together for this really exciting project. It’s also a great source of pride for everyone involved,” said Ms. Ventriglia.
Photo by Namitha Alluri