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Lebanon High School building trades program pays its way

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A house in a northside Lebanon subdivision sold Wednesday for $270,000, and the new owner is expected to move in June 1, which is also the last day of school in Lebanon.

Lebanon High School students are building the house. 

The instructor in the school’s building trades program, Ken Acton, was patiently showing three students Thursday afternoon how to properly install floors in a new home. 

The students built the house — all but the electrical and plumbing, which is done by licensed professionals with the students’ help — from the ground up. 

Brandon Woodruff is in his second and final year of the program. 

“I remember the first day walking up and it was just a foundation, and it is just hard to believe that we did all of this,” Woodruff said. 

Lebanon High School hired Acton six years ago to run the program. Acton is a longtime Boone County builder with decades of experience. He taught students how to frame the house, hang the drywall, install windows and doors, and manage a project.

One the three students working on the house Thursday afternoon was Kenny Puckett, 16. He is planning a career as a carpenter. But, not everyone in the program is headed into the building trades. Woodruff said he is in the class for more personal reasons.

“One day I want to build my own house. It would just make me feel better about it … I didn’t buy and have somebody build it for me … It would make me feel accomplished to be in something that I made,” Woodruff said. 

The house has a decent-sized, a three-car garage, three bathrooms and a layout that flows from one room to the next. There have been close to 200 students go through this program in the last six years.

“One of the most neglected parts of the American industry is the trades: It is the mechanics. It is the builders. It is the framers. At one point it was a surplus. We are trying to build that back up if this program starts that let it happen,” Woodruff said. 

The cost to build the house doesn’t require a dime from taxpayers. There is seed money given to the program every year; however, the profits from the house pay for the program.