Wawasee Building Trades Banquet Highlights Accomplishments
By Keith Knepp
SYRACUSE — Twenty-seven students were honored for their work as members of the Wawasee High School building trades program during the 2021-22 school year. The banquet was held in the school’s cafeteria Monday night, featuring a meal catered by Pathways Culinary Arts Instructor Dan Bauer and his students.
The junior and senior students spent the school year building a single-story, 1,500-square-foot house for Corey and Taylor Kenworthy. The house, located at 12231 Placidview Lane, Milford, will be open to the public from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24.
The evening opened with WBT advisory board president Curt Hursey welcoming the students and their families to the year-end celebration. He then introduced WHS building trades advisor Aaron McKinley, who spoke about this year’s building project and the many challenges the students faced, including supply chain issues that made building materials difficult to acquire and often at a much higher cost than anticipated.
The new house will soon be the home of the Kenworthys, along with their one-month-old daughter.
“We wanted to move to a larger home,” noted Taylor. “With new home prices so expensive, we looked into this program and found out their was no one on the list to purchase it. It all happened very quickly.”
“It’s a win-win both ways,” added Corey, a member of the Syracuse Police Department. “It gives the kids an opportunity to learn and it provided a more affordable option for us to build.”
Following the dinner, Pathways/CTE Director Vince Beasley provided an overview of the Pathways program, including the successes achieved by the building trades students. He described how students worked at the building site for two and a half hours a day, four days a week, throughout the year. They spent their fifth day of the week learning from McKinley in the classroom.
McKinley then introduced the 27 students and presented each with a T-shirt and a $25 gas card as a gesture of thanks from the building trades advisory board. Additionally, senior Brady Bell was presented the “Builder of the Year” award, which came with a plaque and set of power tools.
“It’s important that these kids learn life skills that they can use throughout their lives,” said Hursey. “Some of them will work in the building industry, but even those who don’t can use what they are learning in this class throughout their lives. There’s a huge demand for people in building trades. This is a feeder program for kids to get experience if they choose to enter the job market.”
“Tonight we celebrated these kids and their parents,” added Beasley. “It’s ideal for them to learn as many skills as they can. If they want to enter the field, they have a head start.”
Beasley noted that the building trades program at Wawasee has been around since the 1970s and has seen hundreds of students go through the program, with many turning their knowledge into a career.
McKinley said that the students can proudly say that the house is something that they literally helped build from the ground up.
Beasley agreed, concluding the banquet by saying: For the rest of their lives, they’ll drive by that home and be able to say ‘I helped build that.'”