ISHPEMING TOWNSHIP — “This is a good opportunity for us to go to the next level with our class,” said NICE CTE Instructor John Jessen.

Starting next month, 18 juniors and seniors at Westwood High School will begin building a house. A 75×100 foot piece of property at the corner of Silver and Center Streets in Ishpeming Township now belongs to NICE Community Schools.

The Marquette County Landbank Authority donated the land to the district in order to finance the demolition of an old school building that was once located at the site.

“Seeing something built here is more important to us than any sales proceeds we might get from the lot,” said Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux.

Students in the CTE classes at Westwood have built garage type structures in the past. Building a house will be a new challenge for everyone involved.

“It’s going to be a real interesting step forward,” said Jessen. “The kids are going to get to do a full basement, floor systems and everything that goes with a house: electrical, mechanical, drywall,” he added.

“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said NICE Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine. “We can’t wait to get started. The chance to build a family home from the ground up is just going to give our kids some great experience in Career & Technical Education.”

“I know when I was in school, kids didn’t have those types of opportunities,” said Giroux. “You either learned it from mom and dad or you didn’t learn it at all.”

And with the need for skilled laborers rising, students are learning valuable lessons before they graduate.

“Our area seems to really value the skilled trades,” said Jessen. “I’ve had several students that have gone on and made really successful careers in the trades.”

“One of our goals is to be a good community partner and make sure we build a house that fits nicely into the neighborhood and one the neighbors will be proud to live next to and brings a good market price,” said DeAugustine.

The project will take two school years to complete, with the scheduled completion date set for the spring of 2018.