From the outside, 3109 S. Eagle Summit Drive might look like any other construction zone; however, the yellow school bus parked out front tells a different story.
Carpentry Instructor Cy Boles has led over 20 house builds during the time he has taught at Meridian. He aims to build a house every two years in order to teach students the skills needed to enter the industry. Except for jobs like excavation, concrete work and roofing, most work is completed by students.
“We make sure the students get to learn about the whole process,” Boles explained. “From learning about the layout of doors and windows to framing the walls, we make sure they experience every step of building the house. When we had concrete poured, the students came out to watch and learn what that looked like.”
Students start in the classroom with theory and the basics. First- and second-year students attend class together and work on building the house at the same time. By grouping students of different levels together, it provides a natural teaching environment for students.
“The classroom gets the fundamentals under your belt,” said Hollis Mayfield, Stillwater senior and second-year carpentry student. “Then you can take what you learned and build upon it at the house. Being out there is just like it will be in the workforce; it’s preparing us for our future jobs.”
Because the house will eventually be put on the market to sell, it is treated like any other building site. The students consider Boles their site supervisor when they are working on the house.
“You really want to pay attention to what he says because it’s important,” said Brendan Presley, Stillwater senior and second-year carpentry student. “It’s like he’s our boss. He gives us tips and advice on getting our builds up to code.”
As students develop their carpentry skills, they also decide what career pathways they plan to pursue. Building the house allows students to see a broader scope of work outside of the classroom.
Both Mayfield and Presley intend to enroll in the Electrical Technology program next year. Mayfield aims to build his own house one day. Presley hopes to be a contractor when he finishes at Tech.
Karlee Hagler, an adult student from Stillwater, plans to enroll in the carpentry program next year. Due to the pandemic, she missed out on some of the cabinetry lessons she would like to learn about. She is currently in the National Guard and will continue serving when she completes the Carpentry program.
All three students will play a role in completing the house. Hagler will be a part of finishing the siding and interior. Presley and Mayfield will return in the fall as students in the Electrical Technology program to help wire the house.
“Just like life in and of itself, there are all types of people and thought processes,” Boles said. “That’s what is so great about Tech. I’ve had Masonry students attend my class when they finished, and my students attend Electrical. They get a good idea of what they want to do when they leave here.”
Between local subcontractors and Meridian programs, the house goes from a plot of land to a completely finished house over the course of two years. It takes a combination of Carpentry, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Masonry and Electrical Technology to make it come together.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Workforce and Economic Development services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
For more information or to enroll, visit www.meridiantech.edu or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.