District 214 helps architecture, construction students build careers
How District 214 helps architecture and construction students build their futures
Buffalo Grove High School senior Bartek Orlowski credits one course with his decision to pursue a career in carpentry: geometry.
While that math skill might not be for everyone, Orlowski says the Geometry in Construction class, which combines geometry with hands-on construction training as part of High School District 214's Architecture and Construction Career Pathways, was a turning point for him.
"I'm very happy I took (the class) because, at the time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in life," Orlowski says. "But at the end of sophomore year, I was sure I wanted to become a carpenter."
Northwest Suburban District 214's Architecture and Construction Pathways are designed to prepare students for careers in such areas as architecture, construction and civil engineering, as well as specific trades including carpentry and plumbing -- jobs that are forecast to be in high demand over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"I'm very passionate about (the program)," says Marc Sears, who teaches District 214's College Practical Architectural Construction (PAC), a dual-credit program with Harper College that offers hands-on construction for students as part of the pathway.
"You don't have to go to a four-year school to be successful. There's a high demand with anything working with your hands."
Students start with basic concepts and smaller projects that teach them how to use tools safely. Geometry in Construction is offered during the second year of the pathway and combines geometry with a real-life building project, constructing walls for a house for a disabled veteran.
Students at Buffalo Grove High School build the walls for half the house while students at Rolling Meadows High School build the other half. This year, the walls were shipped to Texas, where the home is being constructed through the national nonprofit A Soldier's Journey Home.
By their junior year, students can start the two-year PAC program, remodeling a single-family home in the district. The project begins with a spring Architecture Showcase, where teams of students engaged in CAD and architectural design from each District 214 high school present plans for a property purchased by the school district.
Once a design is picked, the plans are vetted by an architectural firm, and that fall students begin the remodel. They work on everything from demolition, to flooring, cabinets and tile work, to plumbing and electric. Once they're finished, the home is sold and proceeds go toward purchasing another house.
PAC students can also compete in a statewide SkillsUSA competition for students in trades. This year, Orlowski took second place in the carpentry division, a difficult contest that requires constant effort to build a small structure from blueprints in just eight hours.
But for Orlowski, that kind of work is one of the things he enjoys about carpentry -- and why he plans to start his own company in the future.
"My advice to students with interest in construction or architecture is try to work in the field for at least one summer to see if you're up for all the hard work," he said. "If you are, then stick with it! The demand for hardworking teenagers is very high."
About this series, and how you can helpThis story is part of a 16-week series looking at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program.
To join District 214's Career Pathways effort as an internship host, career mentor or classroom speaker, contact Barb Kain in the Teaching and Learning Department, firstname.lastname@example.org. To support the program financially through a sponsorship, early career credentials or college credits for students, naming or other contribution, contact Erin Brooks with the District 214 Education Foundation, email@example.com.