ANNANDALE, Va. (WUSA) - Every day in Annandale, the construction site for a new home turns into a classroom. The workers are high school students with the Building Futures program at the Phillips alternative high school.
"That's pretty amazing. I mean, who else does that?" said Cedric Streeter, a student builder.
"These are students that have typically not done well in a traditional educational program. Sitting in a classroom for seven hours a day just didn't work. So our students come, they do academic work for half the day and then they switch and work on the job site for the other half of the day," said program manager Alan Peck.
Student builder Patrick Froe said the program makes learning exciting for him because he actually gets "to do the hands-on stuff."
"These are students who in a traditionally public school setting have often been told what they can't do. I think the Phillips Building Futures Program has really showed them what they can do," said Sarah Caldwell with Phillips.
The school owns the property and breaks even by selling the home. The students receive a stipend for their work but technically do not get paid. That makes the whole program affordable.
If it were a professional construction site, the emphasis would be on getting the job done, probably about six months to build one house. But Building Futures takes two years to finish a house because the focus is on learning, not profit.
The students have built many of the homes on Holyoke Drive in Annandale where they are currently working.
When Cedric Streeter drives past the house down the street that he worked on, he thinks, "Man, I built that!" And that's pretty cool for a high school student.
Building Futures students have been putting up houses on Holyoke for 14 years, with Robert Jackson as foreman along with one of the teachers.
"It does a lot for them. I makes them feel like they're on the top of the world. I can do anything. I can build a house, I can stand a wall, I can pour concrete. There nothing I can't do if I can do this," said Jackson.