CRCSD Student Built House: Building Better Futures


Merideth Langton

Students in the CRCSD Student Built House program work as professionals.

James Belding, Writer

The power tools ring out, mixing with the smells of freshly cut wood ready to be nailed in place. Students, not contractors, are abuzz on the roof and inside the building as they work to complete the house on schedule. The house’s frame dwarfs the students; a testament to the size of their task.

Student Built House allows students from across the CRCSD get hands-on construction experience. Headed by director Dan Lough, the program has built a total of 49 houses over the last 50 years. 

As a career and technical education program, Student Built House brings students through the process of building a home from foundation to completion. Students get experience with different aspects of construction and project management while working with local real estate agents.

Jim Muench, a former Kennedy teacher and vice-principal for 21 years, volunteered to aid students with the CRCSD Student Built House program.

“I hope to … learn just by observation and maybe having my hands in there,” said Muench.

Muench draws a line between himself as a volunteer and an instructor. Rather than teaching the students directly, Muench only wants to assist when necessary.

Students from Kennedy, Washington, Jefferson and Metro High School all work together to complete the Student Built House.

“I’m not an instructor, I’m a volunteer, and I’m learning right along with them,” said Muench.

Helping students gain hands-on experience is an important part of the program for Muench.

“I don’t want to interfere with the students’ experience, because the best way to learn in this industry is to do it, not just stand and watch,” said Muench.

The students in the program appreciate Muench’s guidance in the work they are doing.

“He helps us as much as possible and he is always someone we can count on to help us get involved,” said Kennedy senior Aryanna Phillippe.

Dan Lough was hired to take over leadership of the Student Built House program in March 2018. He appreciates Muench’s hands-on approach.

Dan Lough, who is in charge of running the Student Built House, helps students cut wood to hang on the ceiling of the basement.

“I look forward to seeing Mr. Muench come around the corner of the trailer each day, it adds a little more to my smile and spirit to see his excitement to be there volunteering and working with the class,” said Lough. “I take a lot of pride in the program and want to work every day right alongside the students doing any and all construction tasks while we build the home.”

Participating in Student Built House advances students in more ways than just knowledge about home construction. During their work, they form connections with professionals.

“Once students graduate they have lots of contacts and connections and often can land a job before walking across the stage at graduation if they wish. We also have a great time working together as a team as well,” said Lough.

The CRCSD Student Built House program began in the fall of the 1971-1972 school year, headed by Dave Rosenburg. 

The program accepts up to 30 students every year. Students from Kennedy, Washington, Jefferson and Metro High School can be selected, with seniors having priority.  

This is the 50th year of Student Built House. The program has built one house yearly since the 1971-1972 school year, with the exception of 2020-2021. Over the last 50 years, it took a natural disaster and a pandemic to stop them from building a house for our community.

See more photos of the Student Built House here: