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Andrew students learn what goes into building a home

Andrew High School students listen as Ed Kennedy Jr. (center) vice president Hartz ConstructiCo. Inc. David Ihle (right) director limprovements

Andrew High School students listen as Ed Kennedy, Jr. (center), vice president of Hartz Construction Co., Inc., and David Ihle (at right), director of land improvements for Hartz Construction Co., Inc., talk during a career exploration program at a housing construction site in the Sanctuary Pointe subdivision Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, in New Lenox. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 10, 2012 6:29AM



As they trudged Thursday through mud and over gravel, into rough-hewn homes and completed models, Andrew High School students learned there’s a lot more to building a house than four walls and a roof.

With aspirations of becoming electricians, pipefitters, architects or construction managers, eight students from the Tinley Park school got a firsthand look at the entire building process, from the ground up, on a trip to the Sanctuary Pointe subdivision in New Lenox.

Representatives of Woodridge-based Hartz Homes, which is developing the 69-lot subdivision off Marley Road, walked students through the detailed development process — from the time they clear the land until a family moves in.

Students quickly learned that it involves many types of professionals: engineers, architects, land excavators, construction managers, concrete workers, carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers, drywallers, painters and even sales managers and marketers.

“You are the next generation of construction workers and architects,” Don Hartz Jr. told the school’s Career Exploration program participants.

In its second year, the program goes well beyond the school’s annual career day event, taking students to actual workplaces, where they meet people on the job.

Doing so gets students “energized and excited” about careers, said Aaron Villette, who directs the career program. It also builds a network with high school students and the community, and bridges the gap between school and careers, often leading to entry-level jobs, he said.

Villette tries to plan six such field trips in a school year and has taken other groups of students to First Midwest Bank, Christ Medical Center, and the Tinley Park police and fire departments.

“Even if you are only half-interested in these careers, seeing the actual job helps you make up your mind about it,” he said.

“I didn’t realize all that went into building a house,” said junior Liam Bennett, who is considering a career as an electrician or carpenter.

As students looked over the civil engineering plans — the “construction bible” — Dave Ihle, Hartz’s head of land development, showed them what the project looks like underground with its water mains, and sanitary and storm sewers.

Ed Kennedy, vice president of construction, led the group to several construction sites to see all phases of construction step by step. Students saw crews installing footings for a foundation, then walked across the street to see where a foundation had been poured. They visited a home where carpenters had just completed the framing, then saw a home that had been insulated, drywalled and was awaiting paint.

All the while, Ihle and Kennedy stressed the need to have strong math and communication skills, and to be detail-oriented.

“It’s a very interesting and rewarding career to see it completed and know that you were responsible for it,” Kennedy said, adding that he deals with 50 different trades. “Coordination is the key if you’re a construction manager.”

Senior Joshua Rathburn has pretty much made up his mind to become a laborer, and found the whole construction process “really interesting.”

“I really learned a lot I didn’t know before,” he said.

Ribhi Ghusain, who wants to be an electrician, liked seeing everything “behind the walls.”

“I like the trades,” he said. “I want a job that is hands-on.”

Even if just one student goes into construction after this it would be worth it, Hartz said.

“Maybe someday they will invent something to make the process even better,” he said.



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