You never know what might spark a student’s interest in construction. Such was the case on December 21, 2016, when 10th grade students in the Academy of Design and Construction (ADC) at Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Innovation Central High School enthusiastically embraced their studies in the classic holiday short course favorite – gingerbread house construction. Aileen Leipprandt, an ADC mentor, offers the following account of the students’ successful project.

After spending approximately two minutes in a design charrette guided by Ashley Dunneback (Tower Pinkster), the team broke ground. The first order of business was assembly and installation of the pre-fabricated wall panels (graham crackers). Field fabrication of the panels (snapping the crackers into proper dimensions) proceeded without incident largely due to the pre-scored panels. Attempts to customize panel size by sawing with hand tools (plastic knives) was only marginally successful due to breakage and quickly abandoned. Consistency of the principal fastener (icing) played a crucial role in affixing the panels to the structure (ok, we admit that a shoe box provided well-needed structural support).

Next came the roof. Very tricky. Installation of the gables and roof decking was skillfully accomplished through use of gable wall studs and lateral bracing (pretzel sticks), precisely measured and cut with central incisors (front teeth). The ridge vent (colorful gumdrops) was a key aesthetic component. Because of the short construction duration (<50 minutes), to maintain the critical path of the project a portion of the crew worked concurrently on the curtain wall system. Using trowels (more plastic knives), the laborers quickly screeded the mortar (yes, more icing) on the exterior in anticipation of installation of the salty and sweet architectural components (pretzel stick muntins, Cheez-It® siding and M&M® headers).

With Substantial Completion achieved two minutes before the bell ringing, the ADC students and their mentors delivered the project ahead of schedule with only minimal loss in materials consumed by the labor force during the construction process, with M&Ms experiencing a more significant loss ratio than other components. Legal counsel for the contractor (Aileen, Hilger Hammond) confirms that aside from excessive icing coating the fingers and the clothing of the laborers, there were no OSHA recordable injuries on the project site.

Well done ADC students!

Students in the Academy of Design & Construction at GRPS Innovation Central represent the future construction labor force in West Michigan. Perhaps you will consider donating your time or resources as a benefactor or mentor to the ADC program and students? The rewards are priceless…

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