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Birmingham City School Students Build Tiny Home for North Carolina Family

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From left at Huffman High School: Terence Marzette, instructor; students Jayson Anderson; Xzaveon Armstrong; Azayvier Chapman Foster; Rodrick Jones; Makayla Hall; Erick Garcia and instructor Jock Dean in front of a tiny home designed and built students. (Ryan Michaels, The Birmingham Times)

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

A tiny home, designed and constructed by students at Birmingham’s Huffman High School, was moved off the school’s campus Thursday, beginning its journey to a family in North Carolina.

The students, all part of the school’s Academy of Architecture and Construction, worked on the home throughout the school year, under the direction of the department’s head Terence Marzette, who helped with design, and construction teacher Jock Dean.

With Marzette, the students underwent a design and revision process using engineering software like AutoCAD to produce the final blueprints. The students also learned various aspects of practical engineering with Marzette.

Olvin Hernandez, a junior, said designing the house on the computer was challenging but enjoyable.

“It took a little bit to use a program to do the walls, the roofs, the interior . . . but I say it was pretty fun. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole program,” Hernandez said.

The home design and building process helped them learn teamwork and communication skills, as well as the obvious technical skills, students said.

Xzaveon Armstrong, another junior, said he wasn’t excited about learning the software to work on the tiny home, but came around to it.

“Mr. Marzette made me see differently… I really like the design and how the blueprints look and how you can really just turn it into a full model of a page that you can graph up and make, so I really loved it. I just fell in love with it quickly,” Armstrong said.

After developing numerous diagrams of what the structure would look like, the students started building the house with the help of Dean, who said the hands-on experience students learned during the year could help if they end up working in that industry.

“[If a boss says,] ‘Go cut me a piece of wood that’s 16 inches long, [and someone] takes the tape measure, knows how to measure [the wood], cuts it, brings it to the boss, he’s happy,” Dean said. “If [someone] shows up with eight inches, the boss is going to say, ‘Pack your bags.’”

Teaching students how to build a house provided a wide range of lessons, Dean added.

“Electrical is not on the program, but if you’re cutting a wall, and you cut through a wire, you’ve got to know how to deal with, so that’s what we’re trying to be, really practical with the kids,” he said.

Marzette said the program gives students an early start on valuable skills.

“We try to get them at a younger age, so that they can see the actual possibilities and options…because by them being a part of this at 14, 15, 16 years old, once they get out into the workforce at 18, they’re already [going to know].”

Dean added, “I’d rather see [students] doing something constructive and learning in the shop than sitting down, playing on their phones.”