By Tara Cavanaugh
The AAPS Homebuilding Program has plenty to celebrate.
The program’s latest home on north side of the city sold for $335,000. A group of students took first place in home building at the state’s Skills USA competition this spring, and they are heading to the national competition next month. And the program won an E3 Award from the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce on May 16.
In the 43-year-old Homebuilding Program, students learn about construction while under the careful guidance of teacher John Birko, contractors and a board of directors. Each year, the students build a house, which the board then sells. The money goes back into the program, paying for land, materials and contractors. Last year the program purchased eight more lots for future homes.
The success of the program is celebrated at an annual banquet. This year’s event was at Weber’s Inn on May 16.
“If I had had this opportunity in high school, I would have grabbed it,” said keynote speaker Andrew J. Hoffman. “What a fantastic opportunity to learn.”
Hoffman is the author of “Builder’s Apprentice.” The memoir chronicles his experience as a contractor. Hoffman, who has published nine other books, is the Holcium Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is also the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.
“Most people, when a problem occurs in their house, get upset,” Hoffman said. “I get excited. And you will too, because you most likely can fix it yourself.”
Hoffman teaches business and management classes and said that the Homebuilding Program is a valuable experience. “Everything I know about management, I learned by building houses.”
The Homebuilding Program is clearly a gem in the Ann Arbor community, bridging the schools with local businesses. “We chose the program for an E3 Award because it has been a fabulous program in the community for many years,” said Katie Jones, director of marketing and events for the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Chamber. “It gives students a hands-on approach to learning and real life experiences.”
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