This time last week, the new wood shop at Great Falls High was literally abuzz with construction of the school’s first tiny house.
The 12-foot-wide, 20-foot-long home has a small footprint, but it’s making a huge impact. Dozens of students are getting the opportunity to work on a house from the ground up.
“We have two separate classes of kids from all grades working on the tiny house,” said Landon Stubbs, industrial technology teacher at GFH. “They’re getting exposure to everything from drafting plans, to framing walls, to installing electrical and plumbing. They’ll get help from professionals, of course, but they’ll work right next to them.”
The tiny house project is made possible, in part, from a $10,000 grant by the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation. It is one of 30 grants given to teachers, totaling $111,430 made in 2019. Since starting the grant program 10 years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $906,000 funds to 407 teacher and school recipients across the district. In 2020, the Foundation awarded $120,967 in grant to 32 recipients.
One student says he is thrilled by the opportunity to work on the tiny home. “I’m learning so much that I’ll be able to use later in life,” said senior Hunter Houck. “We’re learning to use power tools safely and effectively, and we’ll get to do work with plumbing and electricity. Good skills!”
Building the house has been a stop-and-go exercise this year as the school deals with COVID-related issues, but the plan is to have it finished by next spring. Stubbs said they would figure out some way to auction the home and use proceeds as seed money for another construction project.
Stubbs said the tiny home has provided a lot of learning opportunities, as the first design was not feasible, and students helped redesign the home. It capitalizes on the trend to small-space living, including a loft for sleeping and scaled-down kitchen and bathroom. Students will also install a steel roof and all the appliances.
Across the river, students at C.M. Russell High School also have a special building project funded by the Foundation. In a $1,900 grant awarded to Sunnyside Elementary, that school partnered with Pete Pace from CMR to have industrial technology students construct a storage shed. It will be used to store materials for Sunnyside’s physical education classes, including an 18-hole miniature golf course that was donated to the school.
Grants for special classroom and district projects are funded by donations to the Foundation. They are awarded in a competitive process judged by community members. For information on how you can contribute to the GFPS Foundation, visit our website or please call us at 406-268-7340. We can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.