Students build home annually to assist community


The CMR 2011 High School House is located near West Elementary School.

Mandi Monroe

The CMR 2011 High School House is located near West Elementary School.

When it comes to preparing for a career in construction, there is a class Senior Joshua Mohawk knows will get him there.

Construction Technology is a class some students take for the construction experience, because it is the career path they hope to pursue. “It is a hands-on experience, and it’s a trade I can use in my line of work.” Joshua Mohawk says. “This is my second year taking it, and it’s a fun class.”

Since 1997, 13 high school houses have been built by CMR students, not including this year’s house. Great Falls High students also build a house annually. The students do almost everything.

“Footings, foundation, floor, build the walls, sheet the roof, everything except the electrical and plumbing because you need a license for that.” said the classes teacher, Tom Maurer.

The students are prepared for real construction by being graded on “safety, staying on task, being prepared and being on time,” he said.  

The house is located near West Elementary at 1000 3rd Ave NW, and though the class is fun, students here have to be on task.

“The work has to be spot on; you cannot be off just a little bit.” Senior Jacob Smith said.

This is Junior Cameron Decelles’s first year, and he said his favorite part of the class is “dry wall, where you keep the frame from showing and it’s not so much work.”

25 between 55 students work on the house, with each student devoting two periods the class house each day. For students who would like to take this class, Maurer said, “Plan ahead. Try to take it junior or senior year because you need to get your prerequisites first.”

The prerequisites are Woods 1-2, which is a yearlong class or Pre-Construction 1, which is only a semester.

Maurer recommends that students take two years of the class “the first time is like a trip. You do things once and don’t get to do it again, but the next year you know what you’re doing,”

One of the driving forces behind the high school house is Neighbor Works. Neighbor Works is a nonprofit organization that rebuilds Great Falls neighborhoods and creates home ownership opportunities for families. They also create the plan for the high school house each year, which is then approved by the city center and then CMR takes it into their hands.

After the house is built, a burning question may be: where does it go? Well, the house is not only a good learning experience for students, but an aid to the community.

“It goes to a family who couldn’t usually afford a house, but they can afford this one,” Mohawk said.

High School House proves to be more than an exceptional class for real experience, but something that has been helping Great Falls families for more than 13 years.