For the past two years, behind Queensbury High School, John Potter’s Construction and Carpentry classes have slowly been putting together an impressive wooden structure, deemed a “tiny house”.
The vision to have QHS students building structures for auction has been in the works for over five years. At first, Mr. Potter’s classes started piecemealing and taking apart electronics and machines to learn how they worked. Once Mr. Potter was able to move into a beautiful woodworking shop-turned-classroom complete with outdoor access, their classroom budget grew along with the abilities of his students.
In this new space, students were able to complete two small sheds fully outfitted with electrical work, which Queensbury UFSD uses on its grounds today as storage.
“The goal originally was to do sheds,” said Mr. Potter. “The kids come in with very little experience, and it was difficult to get everyone up to speed and on the same page, but after a few years of teaching and growth, we were able to complete two sheds and begin work on this structure.”
It was Superintendent Kyle Gannon’s idea to have Mr. Potter’s classes build a ‘bunkhouse’–a tiny house that could be on wheels or otherwise moveable and auctioned off to the community at the end of the 2021-22 school year. The money raised at auction would funnel back into the program for future projects.
Jocelyn Behan, a QHS senior and architecture student, rose to the challenge of drawing and designing the wooden structure. Potter only requested the size and two specifications–10’x12′, with a 4′ porch, a shed roof, and at least one large window–everything else was by her own design.
In the meantime, the school worked with Needham Risk Management to have students complete a 10-hour OSHA safety training, and Mr. Potter spent many hours teaching students how to safely use various construction, electrical, and carpentry tools, as well as having them practice wiring outlets, connecting switches, and about 10 other exercises before working on the structure.
Apex Solar, a solar energy contracting company in Queensbury, donated several pieces of equipment including eight solar panels and an inverter, and even sent an Apex technician to assist hooking the panels to the inverter and to double-check the student’s installation prior to the auction.
“The structure was originally intended to be off-grid, but thanks to the generous donation of Stan Dobert at Apex, the panels and inverter allow the building to be connected to the grid and the electrical to be fully functioning,” said Potter. Post-auction, the building can be converted for off-grid use, however, Apex would need to be involved to make the conversion happen.
Not including Apex’s materials or the labor involved, the school has about $6,000 invested into the building. Potter and Gannon both hope to see the building go for at least $10,000 at auction, funds which would directly support the next cycle of students and their next project.
Since the revision of Queensbury’s construction trades program, the district officially has submitted 7 students to the Northeast Carpenters Union to get credit for program completion. This number is expected to grow as the carpentry and residential construction numbers continually increase, and the projects continue to become more involved. If students choose to pursue this option upon graduation, they will move to the top of the list to become a Carpenters Union apprentice.