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Academy Breaks Ground on Student-Built House in Northwest

WI Staff Report | 11/3/2010, 3:39 p.m.
Students from the Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Senior High School are joined by State Board of Education member Sekou Biddle (standing, 3rd from right) and District Councilmembers Kwame Brown, Muriel Bowser, Harry Thomas, Michael Brown, and David Catania at the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Academy's first student-built house. Photo by Kea Taylor for Imagine Photography

The D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation broke ground recently on a single-family house that will provide a hands-on training site for students studying carpentry, electrical, HVAC and other technical specialties in the Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Senior High School.

Nearly 100 students, community residents, faith-based leaders, school administrators, building industry executives and District government officials participated in the ceremony in Northwest Washington, launching the Academy's Councilmember Muriel Bowser welcomed Construction and Design Academy students, instructors, sponsors and program partners to the building site in Ward 4.

The District Department of Housing and Community Development donated the vacant property for use in the Academy's career and technical education program that is administered by the nonprofit D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation, in partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools.

Enrollment in the construction education program is open citywide to District students in grades 10 through 12. More than 100 students are enrolled in the Construction and Design Academy each year.

"The Green Building program at Cardozo is just the latest smart, innovative educational option that provides our kids an opportunity to learn, have fun, and gain real-life experience that will help them find good jobs upon graduation," said Councilmember Bowser. "I fully endorse the efforts of the Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Senior High School and all of its programs."

Student builders in the Construction and Design Academy's green building program will learn to use new technology, sustainable materials and energy-efficient installation techniques while working in a real-life setting under the guidance and supervision of licensed professional craft instructors and construction managers.

At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown, a longtime advocate for skilled job training for District youth and adults, praised students for their success in the Academy's career and technical education programs.

"Students at Cardozo are leading a greener nation and building a path for a better future," said Councilmember Brown. "I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments. These are the kind of programs we need to expand in the District as we move toward a 21st century economy."

Nearly 300 students have enrolled in technical education classes at the Academy of Construction and Design since it opened at Cardozo Senior High School in 2005. Students focus on math, reading and practical science, as they gain skills and technical certifications.

With a 90 percent high school graduation rate among students enrolled in its technical study programs, the Academy of Construction and Design helps students get a fast start toward work, college and careers.

"Our students have met and exceeded every expectation we've set for them," said Academy manager Shelly Karriem, who believes the home building project is also important for the community. "I hope our students will not only build this house, but will also help redefine the negative image so many people in the community hold about young people today," she added.

"You can't just cast away a whole generation. As I look at our students, I see success and enormous potential in these young people."