“Shelter Makes a Difference.”
Those were the words emblazoned on the bright orange shirts worn by the eight students of Rogers High School’s Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) class the day it won first place in the Homeless Shelter Project at the 2017 CTE Showcase of Skills competition in Olympia on March 27.
And those words were the mission of the students as they were tasked with creating a tiny shelter for the homeless. It wasn’t just any class assignment — it was a project that would continue helping others long after they finished it.
“When you’re working on this project you have to think that people are going to be living in this house,” said Ty Freeman, a student in the ACE class. “We had all had to step back and think about how to do this and what it takes to put it together.”
When you’re working on this project you have to think that people are going to be living in this house. We had all had to step back and think about how to do this and what it takes to put it together.
Ty Freeman, a student at Rogers High School
The Homeless Shelter Project, which was put on by the state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, tasked high school and college level students to “demonstrate their technical skills as they build portable, energy efficient, homeless shelters.”
Previously, Rogers’ ACE class competed in various competitions, including one for making dog houses. But this was the first time it entered into a competition like this.
To qualify, each team needed to earn a $2,500 grant. The students wrote letters discussing the impact of homelessness in their local community in order to earn their grant.
On March 7, the class received its materials for the shelter, less than 20 days before the competition. Students felt the pressure.
Teacher Jon Cerio said his students were dedicated to the project.
“The amount of work they put into it is incredible,” said Cerio, who has worked at Rogers High School for 10 years. “They were here after school, in the morning, working 12- to 13-hour days.”
The amount of work they put into it is incredible. They were here after school, in the morning, working 12- to 13-hour days.
Jon Cerio, ACE class teacher at Rogers High School
The students started the project with what most houses start with — a foundation. From there, it was all about laying the floorboards, framing the walls and putting in insulation.
More than that, the class’ tiny shelter had features that made it stick out — and helped it win first place. Students designed a curved roof, creating 22.25 cubic feet of extra space for the house. Inside the house, one wall was made with donated pieces of wood from stop signs. Words, including “Love,” Peace” and “Strength” were lasered onto the wood by senior Alejandra Contreras-Jacobo.
“They judged us on correct measurements, creativity, safety and the function of the house,” said student Isaiah Morones.
They judged us on correct measurements, creativity, safety and the function of the house.
Isaiah Morones, student at Rogers High School
The team competed against 24 other schools. When the classmates found out they won, it was a big weight off of their shoulders.
“That day was a big rush, so it was a breath of relief,” said Tanner Paine.
“It was nice to know that (the work) paid off,” added Morones.
At the competition, the students and teachers heard from speakers who had lived in tiny shelters before.
“That was pretty impactful to hear them talk and to hear that this is going to help them,” Cerio said.
The class’s tiny shelter is now making a difference for others at Licton Springs, 8620 Aurora Ave. N. in Seattle.