Wrenshall students get hands-on experience with house project

Juniors and seniors are building the frame of a house that will be put up in the community in April.

Peyton Johnson, a senior, hammers a nail on the side of the house build the Wrenshall School shop class is building on Wednesday, March 15.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

WRENSHALL — The banging heard outside the Wrenshall career and technical education building prompts thoughts on what students could be working on inside, with the answer being larger than many would guess—a house.

Chris Gustafson, the district's shop teacher, said the project is a way for students to get hands-on experience building something real.

Chris Gustafson, right, explains an idea to a Wrenshall student on Wednesday, March 15. The students are constructing a house frame in the school's new career and technical education building.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

"You can't always do that in education," he said. "Something that is real-world and not just making a model house."

The program's latest project would not have been possible without the new CTE building to house the frame. The classroom-sized space the program previously occupied wouldn't have been large enough.

The project began in January, and Gustafson said it came about thanks to a community member's request. The students should have the frame completed by April, he said. Then it will be moved to a plot in the community.


The frame still needs insulation and siding, but Gustafson said it is being constructed up to code.

The students working on the project are juniors and seniors, most of whom are interested in the trades.

Peyton Johnson, a senior, said the project offers great experience before he starts work as a carpenter in the summer.

"I know what I want to do," he said.

Mason Mallon, another senior, isn't necessarily going to go into carpentry or the construction field, but he said he has some experience building houses.

Donita Stepan will continue to serve as the principal of South Terrace Elementary.
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The third phase of budget reductions sees the school board eliminate four teaching positions and lay off the current business manager, bringing the total amount cut to $383,000.
A parent asked the Esko School Board to consider changing the district's team name from "Eskomos" to something else.
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The school board has made two phases of budget cuts so far, with a third round to take place Tuesday, March 14.
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"On April 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we will be holding our second annual Skate with the Easter Bunny at Northwoods Credit Union Arena," writes Erin Bates.

"I also built my house last summer," he said.

Understanding technical terms like the king stud, trimmers and rough seal along the window frame Mallon was working on, Mallon learned something new and fun on his second home build.

Not only are students learning practical skills while building the house, but also some interpersonal ones as well.


Gustafson said he organized the students into groups, mixing those who have some experience among those with less. The students who are more familiar with construction are leaders who help the other students. If they can't solve an issue, they turn to Gustafson.

From left, Ben Nyberg, Ryan Mattson and Mason Mallon check measurements on a piece of siding before cutting it to size on Wednesday, March 15, in the career and technical education building at Wrenshall School.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

"If you do something you learn it, if you teach it you really learn it," Gustafson said.

Since starting the project, Johnson said he has learned how to work with others on a large-scale build.

For Mallon, patience when working on a project has been a new skill, and he said the project has showed him how to fix his mistakes as he goes.

While the project is still underway, Gustafson said he already lined up the program's next project for the spring. The students will help install solar panels at Locally Laid Egg Company when the temperatures start to climb.

"I get feedback from the kids that they like building something that's real," he said.

The frame of a house being built in the Wrenshall School career and technical education building is seen on Wednesday, March 15.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
Chris Gustafson, second from the right, starts off Wrenshall School's shop class with a discussion on assignments for the day on Wednesday, March 15.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
Blueprints for the house frame being built by Wrenshall juniors and seniors is seen in the school's career and technical education building on Wednesday, March 15.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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