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High School Project featured in Sunday's Hibbing Daily Tribune

Posted: 2009-05-17 15:51:05

Habitat open house on Monday
Educators, students to be present

by Anna KurthStaff Writer
Published: Sunday, May 17, 2009 6:00 AM CDT

HIBBING — The pink house is almost ready.

After nine months of waiting and hard work, the house at the corner of 1226 12th Ave. E. is almost ready for the Firebaugh family to move in.

Madison Firebaugh, 3, calls it the pink house because her room is painted pink, said her father Johnathan.

The house was built by high school students from Hibbing, Chisholm and Nashwauk high schools through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Students from the three schools have been working since September to build the house. Hibbing Community College (HCC) electrical maintenance and refrigeration, heat and air conditioning programs, also partnered on the project.

An open house and dedication ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Monday. The house will be open for viewing from 9 a.m. until noon that day, said Nathan Thompson, executive director of Northern St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity.

The dedication will include speeches from Mayor Rick Wolff, the Rev. Nathan Scheele, of Grace English Lutheran Church in Marble, Thompson, the Firebaughs and school administrators from the three high schools and HCC.

Johnathan and Kimberly Firebaugh and their children Madison and Sammy, 1, will move into their new home June 1.

The house was designed to fit the family. The Firebaughs picked out the lighting, flooring and cabinets that went into their new house.“It’s turned out awesome,” Johnathan Firebaugh said. “When we walk in there we’re still in disbelief that we get to live in this new house.”

Madison Firebaugh is excited about the prospect of getting her own room and the entire family is ready for moving day, he said.“Half of our stuff is already packed, we are so ready,” he said. “... It’s a brand new house. Some people go all their lives and not get to live in a brand new house.”

Firebaugh said he’s excited to see all the students and other volunteers together Monday at the dedication.“It was cool watching all those hands coming together to build our house,” he said. “We haven’t seen all of those people who worked on our house together.”

The students all worked at different times. The classes of high school students worked on a schedule, with each school taking a different two-hour shift. The student workers included six from Nashwauk, 12 from Hibbing and 12 from Chisholm. Students from HCC worked when the project reached the point when electricity and heating were ready to be installed.

he high school students worked hard and the HCC students were amazing, Firebaugh said.“It’s been awesome, you know, watching the kids learn new things,” he said. “All those kids work really, really hard.”

The project was a good lesson for the students, said Thad Johannesshon, Nashwauk teacher.“For a first time collaboration I think things went really well,” he said. “... Most of the kids got something out of it. ... Most of them are pretty proud. They can say ‘Hey, I built a house.’”

The students are proud of their work, said Hannah Matsen, of Chisholm.“The house turned out nice,” she said. “It’s come a long way.” Daley Johnson of Chisholm said she’s happy a family will soon move into the house.“It’s bigger than we thought it was,” she said. “It’s just amazing the process that we went through to get here where we are today.”

Students also felt the class was a valuable experience, said Tony Hecimovich, a Hibbing senior. “I thought it was pretty fun to do,” he said. “It was a lot better than just going to school for class. I got a lot out of it.”

The students worked on every aspect of the building project since they began working in September — except the pouring of the cement slab. Members of the Mason’s union volunteered to pour the slab. But the roofing, windows, framing and trim work was completed by the students, Hecimovich said.

Everyone learned some valuable lessons from building the house, Matsen said. “Girls can really learn a lot too,” she said. “I think it’s a fun class.” Matsen said the knowledge learned during the course will be useful in the future because the students know how to build a house and will be able to fix items such as cabinets, trim and replace siding someday, she said.“It’s a really good class,” she said.

Hibbing senior Garrett Allan agreed.The skills learned in the class are life skills, he said. Mistakes did arise during the building process, but they were corrected by the students, he said. At times it was difficult because the teachers taught different techniques for doing some of the work, and students at times would have to figure out how to combine the methods or redo the work, said Angela Johnson, of Chisholm High School. Even with communication issues a trouble at times, students said they liked the way the class combined work by students from three different schools. It was nice to see how far they got each day, Allan said.

The students will see one another Monday during the open house. The course is the perfect set up for everyone involved — Habitat for Humanity got volunteers, the family got a house and the students got to learn, he said. “I think it’s a good idea. It’s set up really well,” he said. “It’s a perfect system everybody wins.”

Habitat will now sell the house to the Firebaughs with a 30-year zero-percent interest mortgage, Thompson said.“It’s an opportunity for them to get to own a house that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” he said. Johnathan Firebaugh said the mortgage on the house will be less than the rent the family is currently paying.“I would encourage everyone who is in any kind of need for housing to at least check them out,” he said. “Without it (Habitat) there would be no way my family and I would be moving into a house — especially a house that was built especially for us.”

The Firebaughs’ home is the 31st built by the Northern St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity since the organization was formed in 1995, Thompson said. The organization has built homes in 13 St. Louis County communities.

Habitat for Humanity will collaborate with the three high schools and HCC to build another home in Hibbing beginning next fall, Thompson said. “From Habitat’s perspective it was just a model project, everyone cooperated very well, it just went so smoothly,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity is accepting applications from prospective homeowners for the 2010 building season, for more information call 866-749-8910 or visit the organization’s Web site at http://www.nslchfh.org/.

Anna Kurth can be reached at anna.kurth@mx3.com. To read this story and comment on it online go to http://www.hibbingmn.com/.