Construction Academy for the Win!

The Construction Academy under the direction of Mr. Lanford contributed time and talent to keeping school repairs and projects in-house. This gave construction students valuable experience while also saving the school money. Mr. Lanford was also awarded Teacher of the Year for the 2022-23 school year.

Some of the projects included the deck between the locker room and the tennis courts, football huddlebox, shelving in the wrestling locker room, and shelving in janitorial closets. These repairs saved the school money by using recycled material while other repairs extended the life existing construction. Mr. Lanford shared, “A new deck probably would have cost about $ 20,000.00. Students, learning how to make repairs, gained great knowledge, experience, and critical thinking skills, and materials cost under $ 1000.00 to make this deck last at least 3 more years. The huddlebox had a wheel broken off. We added a new bottom, reinstalled the wheels, and made the box workable using approximately $ 130.00 worth of materials. To replace the box with a new one would be $ 4000.00.”

For the wrestling and janitorial shelving, Mr. Lanford used recycled laminate table tops that were donated to the school. “Mr. Sweatman had received some heavy-duty shelf framing but no shelves. Students Ripped existing packaged laminate table tops, from material acquired 3 years ago, and placed that material as shelving. Very clean, and recycled materials. If we had to buy 3⁄4” plywood, it would have taken 9 sheets at $ 75.00 per sheet for a total of $ 675.00. We are creating shelving in the janitorial closet to better maintain inventory and storage of custodial materials. We are using some of the same acquired laminate to build the shelves. If a contractor built and installed this shelving, my guess would be the school would spend about $ 6000.00.”

Students also made repairs for the people within the community. For example, the students repaired a wheelchair for a Madison resident. “A strut attached to the wheel assembly had broke. Students resecured the strut by adding piping and screws. The cost of the repairs was negligible as these were items left over from other projects. A new wheelchair would have cost at least $ 500.00.”

Mr. Lanford said, “By their involvement in repairing items at school, building projects for school and community use, they are ‘part of’ and ‘buy-in’ to the interests of the school and community. They earn pride in accomplishing something that they will see used for many years by others.”

Students earn industry credentials like the NCCER CORE Certification and OSHA 10-hour Construction Card. These cover Safety, Construction Math, Hand Tools, Power Tools, Construction Drawings, Communication Skills, Employability Skills, and Material Handling.

For students interested in careers in the construction field, Mr. Lanford shared this advice: “There are so many variables and jobs in the field. Try out different parts, BUT DON’T GO INTO DEBT THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY BACK. Sometimes, depending on the industry, companies will help pay or outright pay for continuing education. Most larger companies know the value of the retainage of good employees. Also, with the lack of individuals getting into the trades, if you are good, you can advance to a foreman, superintendent, and/or project manager quickly without sustaining debt. If you know you want to be a project manager and you have great grades, look at getting into a building science, construction engineering, or construction management program. Schools closest offering these programs are Alabama A&M, University of Alabama, and Auburn University.”