Huntsville High School students building homes for heroes

Photo courtesy of H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas

After a chaotic school year affected by the pandemic, Huntsville Independent School District has begun preparations to introduce school programs that allow for new and exciting opportunities for their students. One such opportunity is the collaboration recently established between Huntsville High School and H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas called “Homes for Huntsville Heroes.”

“The cool thing about our program is its Huntsville Kids building a house that’s going to stay in Huntsville for Huntsville veterans and so that if you think about it, that’s kind of cool like we’re helping our hometown take care of our hometown veterans,” explains Huntsville High School construction teacher Kevin DaSilva.

Formed in January, the “Homes for Huntsville Heroes” program has already gained a lot of traction. H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas executive director, Tara Burnett, agreed to take the homes in on her family property. This, along with donations, will allow construction to begin this fall semester.

Building a home is only the first step. As the homes go up and students get more involved, the idea is to train students fully to allow for a better future, not only for the retired veterans but the upcoming students as well.

“If we can up their game a little bit by giving them their OSHA certification and giving them a little bit of a skill set and saying, ‘Hey, you know I kind of like doing electric,” DaSilva said. “Now I can go to the outside world and say, ‘Hey, electrical contractor guy, why don’t you come in here?’ and look at what this kid did pretty much on his own. Now they just step right out of high school man they got a job making $20-25 an hour.”

Huntsville High School Principal Paul Trevino shared this enthusiasm, sighting other programs that the school plans to take up this fall.

“I have been working with our staff about trying to get our students plugged into our community,” Trevino said. “What’s great about this is we’re able to bring in students from different departments, different classes, and even different campuses to bring them together to work on a project, that’s going to benefit a resident here in Huntsville.”

A key program for both students and teachers is the new leadership program. Much like “Homes for Huntsville Heroes,” this program aims to build new skills for future development making for brighter futures.

“We’re partnering with Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola, with a leadership training program for students and they’ll be able to receive some leadership training, based on some systems and processes they have in place in working with young people,” Trevino explained. “Leadership training is what we’re looking for and it also promotes community engagement as well and that’s where we were excited about with this particular program.”

These programs are also coming on the heels of, yet still independent of, the Huntsville ISD 2021 School Bond. This year’s bond will have multiple sections to allow for multilevel change and once again, give new opportunities to the youth of Huntsville.

Unlike “Homes for Huntsville Heroes,” and the leadership program, the bond is not guaranteed yet. Its early vote runs until the last week of April and ends on Election Day, set for May 1.

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