EducationLocalPrince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Celebrates Student-Built House

Darien Halliburton completed masonry work, including installation of weep holes in the bricks to ensure moisture and water drains outside the house, while Sivaleshwari Ramu focused on interior design of a toddler’s room.

The two are among a group of Prince George’s County Public Schools students who set out in September to design and construct a 3,900-square-foot house in Brandywine, Maryland — a plan that came to fruition Thursday as school officials, teachers, volunteers and parents helped celebrate the completion of the domicile.

“I’m an engineer and I build stuff, so I know what you all deal with every single day when you come out here,” said school board member Sonya Williams, who represents the district in which the house is located. “I love the fact that when I build something, regardless of how bad a day you’ve might had, I can always go back to that structure and say, ‘I built that.'”

Prince George's County Public Schools students pose for a photo-op on May 9 outside a house with 3½ bathrooms they helped design and construct in Brandywine, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Prince George’s County Public Schools students pose for a photo-op on May 9 outside a house with 3½ bathrooms they helped design and construct in Brandywine, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The students who built the house with four bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms and a basement are part of the school system’s Foundation for Applied Construction Technology for Students (FACTS) program. Established in 1981, the program enables students to learn carpentry, masonry and other related skills to design houses throughout the county.

The house in Brandywine with a two-car garage was the 43rd structure built as part of the program, for which approximately 16 students received monetary scholarship awards. Half of those students attend Bladensburg and received amounts ranging from $125 to $1,500.

Howard Burnett, the FACTS board chair, said the program isn’t just vo-tech, or vocational education, and has evolved where students learn much more than just construction. For instance, the students installed the home’s security system.

The house on Lusby Street served as the second house constructed by students in the neighborhood with a third scheduled in the near future. According to the FACTS program sheet, 285 high school students throughout the county participated in project.

Darien, a 17-year-old senior at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, was among three students to receive a $500 scholarship award. After high school, he plans to participate in basic training at the Air Force Academy in Texas, then use his newfound masonry skills “and other things I will learn once I’m done.”

Dylan Brown received a $1,000 scholarship award and a certificate for his carpentry work. The 17-year-old senior at Bladensburg High School briefly explained how he installed baseboards upstairs in a bedroom and helped mount drywall downstairs.

Dylan Brown, a 17-year-old senior at Bladensburg High School, explains some of the carpentry work he did on a 3,900-square-foot house built completely by him and fellow Prince George’s County Public Schools students. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Dylan Brown, a 17-year-old senior at Bladensburg High School, explains some of the carpentry work he did on a 3,900-square-foot house built completely by him and fellow Prince George’s County Public Schools students. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

“The work helped me [be] more hands-on instead of just working on a computer and designing stuff on a computer,” said Dylan, who will study graphic design at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.

The students’ last task for the summer is building a deck. Williams said the house will go on the market for $490,000 after it’s completed.

The furnished dining room of a house in Brandywine, Maryland, built by Prince George's County Public Schools students is shown here on May 9. (Robert Roberts/The Washington Informer)
The furnished dining room of a house in Brandywine, Maryland, built by Prince George’s County Public Schools students is shown here on May 9. (Robert Roberts/The Washington Informer)

“When I took the interior design class, I wasn’t sure what I was walking into,” said Sivaleshwari, a 16-year-old junior at DuVal High School in Lanham who garnered a $125 scholarship award for her participation. “I definitely learned on how to pay attention to details and look at the bigger picture.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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