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Thunder Basin students construct playhouses for 2 nonprofits

Thunder Basin High School's construction class donated two brand-newly built children's playhouses to the community.

(Lori Jones)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Thunder Basin High School’s construction class this week is donating two children’s playhouses they built.

Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity and the Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County each received one, Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Brenda Kirk said in an email.

Thunder Basin industrial arts teacher Scott Brastrup, who has many years of experience in construction, said that while he led his students in the project, the students did about 99% of the construction work.

The students who worked on the project are in Brastrup’s year-long course. Every year, students in the class complete a large project together so that they can apply the skills they learn. In the first quarter, they learn groundwork skills that they need to have before launching such a project. Over the three remaining quarters, the students completed the project, which included flooring, walls, siding and more.

Students this year decided that they wanted to build a house. However, there wasn’t the room, land or money to do that, as Brastrup told them. Still, many persisted.

Last year, some of the students had participated in building a storage shed. They said they wanted to do something unique.

Brastrup suggested they could construct a playhouse, to the delight of the students.

He had a large class this year, so he divided them into four “crews,” which of each had a foreman who was responsible for communicating with the team on behalf of Brastrup and vice versa.

He demonstrated how to do certain steps and intervened when necessary. For example, students had never before built a truss, so he built the first.

Brastrup occasionally had to change up the crews so they could be more effective, though he also wanted the foremen to have the experience of having to deal with conflict on a jobsite so they could build leadership skills. He would also ask certain students to take a turn being a foreman so they could understand that the role of foreman isn’t easy either.

He said industrial arts students work really hard to develop skills and obtain industry-recognized credentials during high school that will allow them to transition easily into the industry. For example, this year, he required students to obtain their OSHA 10 card, which includes safety and health information for entry-level workers in construction and general industry. A grant pays for the testing.

“I think kids just need to continue to be rewarded for all the hard work they put in,” he said.

The students decided that they wanted to donate the projects, Brastrup said. The students came up with the idea of donating one to the Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County, and Brastrup told the students about the work of Habitat for Humanity.

Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County staff and the students who built the playhouse who were at school today. Seniors who graduated this year also participated but are not pictured. (Lori Jones)

“Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity is excited to partner with Thunder Basin High School’s construction program for projects like this,” Kirk said. “Building two playhouses of this size was a huge undertaking for Mr. Brastrup’s class, and they did an amazing job. We are hoping to raffle off our playhouse to a family that will really appreciate it, and that it will help us continue to build new homes in Campbell County.”

Devin Cady, the interim director for Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County, said the organization is really excited to have the playhouse.

“We know our kids are going to get a lot of fun, imaginative play,” she said.

Cady said that after Brastrup reached out to the organization to ask whether they would like a playhouse, staff met up with him and the class to learn more. They plan to pick up the playhouse May 25 to bring it to the organization’s building, she understands.

Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County’s new director begins the position May 30, Cady said.

Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County staff (Lori Jones)