Northeast program celebrates 25 years of building homes and community
This school year marks the 25th anniversary of the partnership between the Lincoln Housing Authority and Lincoln Northeast High School’s Student-Build House Program, in which students and industrial technology teacher Bob Freese dedicate about 400 hours to the construction of a house that a family eventually calls home.
Freese was reminded of the program’s lasting impact on Tuesday as he made the two-mile drive from Northeast to Lincoln Public Schools District Office, where he and his current students presented as part of the latest LPS Learning Lunch, “Twenty-five Years of Student-Built Houses.”
“Just on the short drive I passed three houses we’ve built over the years. They’re part of the community; families are living in those houses; they have children going to Lincoln Public Schools” he said, later adding, “There are a lot of people who have been impacted by this program.”
Students - typically about 15 a year - take the house-building program as a course for school credit. Freese and his students work with a general contractor who coordinates the more specialized aspects of the project, such as electrical work and plumbing. The Lincoln Housing Authority owns the property and works to find a resident who otherwise could not afford a new house.
At the Learning Lunch, Freese projected photos of student-built houses during various stages of construction and called on individual students to join him at the podium and explain that phase of the project - for example, laying anchor bolts as part of the foundation or installing insulation.
“This program gives the opportunity for young people to learn some skills in construction, where there are many good job opportunities available,” said Freese, who has taught at Northeast for 35 years.
Home Builders Association of Lincoln President Denny Van Horn, a former industrial technology teacher at Northeast, spoke at the end of Tuesday’s program about the impact Freese and this program has had on the local construction industry. As an example, he talked about a former student who now owns his own plumbing business.
“He said the only reason he went in to the construction business was because of Bob Freese,” Van Horn said. “In Lincoln we have a shortage of skilled, qualified laborers. We need the kind of people that Bob is teaching.”
And now, after 25 years, Freese is teaching students who have benefited twice from the program.
“I had a student who had moved in to the second house we built when he was two years old. Then a few years ago, he helped build a house about two blocks away,” he said. “It made me realize we’ve come full circle. That’s a good feeling to have.”
Learning Lunches are scheduled for noon in the board room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. They're open to the public, as well as LPS staff. Doors open at 11:45 a.m. and feel free to bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.
There are two remaining Learning Lunches as part of the 2018-19 season:
- Tuesday, April 16: LPS Student Debate, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist for English Language Arts for secondary education
- Tuesday, May 14: Aprenda mientras toma su almuerzo con los Mariachis de las Ciudad Estrella! (Learn while you have your lunch with The Star City Mariachi Ensemble), Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS
Published: March 19, 2019, Updated: March 27, 2019