Students at Tenino High School are building a tiny house that will be part of a big competition March 27 on Capitol Campus in Olympia.
Twenty teams of high school and college students from across the state are scheduled to compete in the first CTE (Career Technical Education) Showcase of Skills — Homeless Shelter Project. Tenino is the only Thurston County school involved in the event.
“I feel great,” said Tenino sophomore Wyatt Blankenship, 16, as he worked on the tiny house during wood shop class on Tuesday. “For me, personally, it’s literally like making it and giving it to someone, and having them feel good about themselves and starting over again for a new life.”
The one-day program is being coordinated by the state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board).
Each team was given a $2,500 stipend to buy supplies to build a portable, 8-by-12 foot energy-efficient shelter. After the competition, the tiny homes will be transported to Seattle, where they will be used as transitional homeless housing.
Tenino students began building their shelter, which was designed with a wider doorway, a ramp and other features for disabled people, in January.
“The walls are the most painful part, because you have to get them centered. They need to be straight and flat,” said Joshua Tindle, 17, a junior. “That is probably the hardest thing about this project.”
The school’s Future Farmers of America and DECA clubs helped round up community donations and volunteers and manage the budget, and art students designed a mural for the shelter, said Ellen Cavanaugh, assistant principal and CTE director.
“It’s just been neat to see the whole school at large to kind of get behind the project,” she said.
Tenino High CTE teacher Fletcher Mann said he hopes the project will give students a better sense of the importance of community support, along with some woodworking skills. He said he would like the school to build more tiny houses that can stay in south Thurston County and help local people.
The CTE competition will take place within walking distance of the Legislature, and lawmakers are expected to stop by and watch students put on the final touches, such as hanging doors and painting trim. Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife Trudi, along with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and representatives from the Low Income Housing Institute of Seattle, are on the proposed lineup of speakers. For information, including a list of participating schools, see wtb.wa.gov/CTEHomelessHouseProject.asp.
Tenino High senior Emily Whitener, 17, said she’s glad her school is participating in the competition. She likes the way their shelter is turning out.
“It’s small, cozy and it can be called home for whoever needs one,” Emily said.