MONUMENT • Thanks to sizable donations, the construction classes at Lewis-Palmer High School are ready to operate and learn at the next level.

And the improvements aren’t over.

Last week, The Home Depot donated construction tools and equipment worth over $8,500 to the school’s construction classes. In addition, Elder Construction of Colorado Springs also donated close to $800 in tools to the program. Instructor Andrew Vrieze said Elder Construction has also pledged to donate electrical installation at the program’s construction building at no cost to the school, worth well over $2,000, he said.

Elder Construction contacted Vrieze through his district email offering to help the construction program. Vrieze said they asked for a list of needs for the program, and he responded with what was most and immediately needed. The owner of Elder then purchased and dropped off the new equipment at the school on Jan. 20.

In addition, the company had one of its partners, Encore Electric, come to the school and plan out the electric installation, scheduled for Jan. 25. Encore and Elder are adding lights and power to the program’s construction building.

“Up to this point, we were running extension cords from an exterior outlet near our weight room,” Vrieze said. “We could only see in our shed with flashlights or when all the doors were open.”

Also, the companies will provide equipment for the program to start teaching electrical to students next year.

The Home Depot foundation is partnered with Home Builders Institute, and found Vrieze through them.

“HBI has provided a free online curriculum to our students so that when they complete the course, they will have a legit certification that they can take with them, whether they decide to go into the trades or not,” Vrieze said.

The Home Depot tools will provide more students with access, Vrieze said. Previously, there were only a few tools available for use among 20 students. He said many students were having to wait for certain tools to come available, but with Elder’s and The Home Depot’s donation of tools, projects will be able to move faster and more efficiently.

In 2020, the construction class built 10 greenhouses that were sold to members of the community for $1,500 (cost of material) — a widely popular endeavor. Vrieze said the greenhouse projects will return this spring. They are planning to build 12 greenhouses in class and will offer opportunities for students to build more over the summer. He said the list of requests for greenhouses has grown from last year, approximately 30-40 people, to now over 80 in the immediate community.

The program has grown since last year as well. Last year, 30 students took the construction class and over 65 signed up this year, Vrieze said. Next year, the program plans to offer a year-two construction class in which the curriculum will specialize on more sub-trades such as electrical, plumbing, concrete, roofing and others.

“We may get into building a tiny home or partner with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for the needy,” Vrieze said. “My goal is to continue to grow the program to allow even more students in our district to take these classes.

“We have been totally blessed by this community who has seen a need for a return to the trades in today’s schools. We look forward to continued partnerships with businesses and members of our community.”

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