‘Build a Home, Build a Future’

On May 28, the local High School Home Construction Project – part of the Door County Business and Education Partnership within the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) – unveiled what it’s been working on all winter and spring: a top-flight home that’s already been sold.

This year, Sturgeon Bay High School students Caleb Diller, Erik Escalera, Cody Kuehn, Kaiden Van Eperen and Trevor Wilke, along with Sevastopol student Kyle Carson, worked together under the leadership of technology and engineering instructor Seth Wilson of Sturgeon Bay High School.

These students built the 10th home to come out of the project, which began in 2007. Its motto, “Build a home, build a future,” means that this program gives participating students invaluable learning and skills to work in the construction trade.

Graduates of the program will be able to enter the workforce after high school or continue their education. They receive credit for their participation and advanced placement at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The open house at the home on Sturgeon Bay’s Columbia Avenue revealed a large residence with slick, wooden floors and shiny lights and cabinetry. Students stood in each room, ready to answer the questions of visitors who milled about, admiring the students’ achievements.

The evening included an awards ceremony during which Christina Studebaker, DCEDC’s workforce development project manager, gave opening remarks.

She detailed the students’ “impressive accomplishment” – a sentiment certainly shared by the other presenters and attendees. She also recognized those who supported the students during the project, including parents, teachers, school faculty and administrators, subcontractors and contributors.

“These projects have always been community projects,” Studebaker said. “Support comes from many places and in many forms.”

Paul Shefchik, president of Portside Builders, spoke about how valuable this home-construction program is. There are numerous job opportunities awaiting those who are interested in the building business, and there’s a continuous need to fill them. It’s important to entice young people to get into the field and to spread the word, Shefchik said.

Seth Wilson, who led the students, lauded them for working through tough conditions.

“If it wasn’t raining, it was snowing,” Wilson said. “If it wasn’t snowing, it was cold and windy. If it wasn’t cold and windy, it was raining again. It was a constant battle. It’s pretty amazing they stuck this out and built as big of a house as they did.”

Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward also recognized the program’s and the students’ achievements. He said the camaraderie among the students and the respect they have for their teacher shows what a great program it is. He also addressed the housing shortage in Sturgeon Bay as one of the first things he’s working on.

Motioning to the students, he said, “Here’s part of the solution right here.”

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