The syllabus for this school year’s advanced wood shop class at Nicolas Junior High includes expanding upon skills acquired in the introductory course, mastering the safe handling of new materials and building hope for a local family.
A class of 22 eighth-graders, who were selected to be part of the Fullerton School District’s Tiny Home project, is starting the process of constructing a 192-square-foot house. The young students plan to build the home on a trailer as it will eventually be moved to a space beside Orangethorpe Elementary School.
At a kickoff celebration event held on Sept. 19, Jeremy Davis, the assistant superintendent of innovation and instructional support for the district, presented the project to district and school partners, which included the Fullerton Education Foundation, the Orange County Department of Education, elected officials and families.
Construction of the tiny home is expected to be completed by May. The structure will then serve as a temporary residence for a student and their family who are receiving assistance from the district under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Meanwhile, Davis and the district will work with organizations in the city to transition its occupants to a more stable living situation.
“You might be thinking that we’re just building a house, but this could be a step to so much more,” said Davis. “You never know where it’s going to go, but this is the spark that lights the fire.”
Under the guidance of Mucio Vidales, the woodshop elective teacher at the campus, the students will construct a sustainable and energy-efficient house.
“Building things is my passion, and I really enjoy being able to share that passion with my students,” said Vidales. “I want to thank everyone for their support and participation in this project.”
This project will involve additional groups of students who will work together to turn the vision into reality. While the eighth-graders apply mathematical concepts and receive hands-on training to construct the infrastructure, a separate group of students from a different campus will focus on furnishing the home, creating a welcoming environment for the family. The district is currently in the process of carefully assessing and selecting a family to benefit from this initiative.
Happening on the same campus, Nicolas’ associated student body cabinet is in the process of creating a documentary that will chronicle the milestones their peers will achieve and the challenges that they’ll need to overcome.
Nearby at Parks Junior High, the district is working with a small group of students who will present the project to the Fullerton City Council.
“They’re learning how to create a compelling presentation because you only have three minutes to convince five people to put something on the next meeting’s agenda,” Davis said.