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Class to career: How high schoolers are building homes across Green Bay

Learn how students are impacting the city's housing need and developing industry career skills at the same time.
Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 05, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — A program within Green Bay Area Public Schools called "Bridges" is allowing high school students to turn houses into homes. Learn how the program is also making a big impact for the newcomers of the manufacturing industry.

  • High schoolers in Green Bay have been given the opportunity to build homes since the 2016-17 school year though the Bridges program.
  • The project the group is currently working is at 1162 and 1164 Day St. in Green Bay. Video shows a small group of students working on it Tuesday afternoon.
  • Many students in the program can earn jobs right after high school. Last year, the manufacturing industry had 12.1 million workers

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

"This is a program called bridges," Omar Avella, a junior at Preble High School, said.

A program building bridges between class and career. Video shows Avella showing the inside of a house students are working on at 1162 Day St. in Green Bay.

He has plans to be in the manufacturing industry upon graduation.

"Our teacher guides us through it so we can learn and get into a career ourselves," Avella said.

Their teacher is Brian Frerk, who has been with the program since it started in 2018.

"I've got teachers all the time that say, 'Can I take your class'," Frerk said. "I can help them get jobs as soon as they leave high school."

Since 2016, the Bridges program has been offered through Green Bay Area Public School District (GBAPSD).

They have partnered with Neighborworks, a nonprofit community housing development organization.

Brian says students have built about 10 homes and 3 renovations so far.

"It's great for everybody," Frerk said. "The industry needs them, the community it short of housing, we need more housing and these kids need jobs and sometimes they don't want to go on to college."

Data shows that manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of the u.S. Economy and was the 5th largest employer in the nation last year at 12.1 million employees

"It's pretty fun," Avella said.

With more work to be done, Avella said he's confident he will land where he wants to be.

"This program can get me a step in the trade industry so I might as well take it," Avella said.

Frerk said the goal is to have the project wrapped up by the start of summer.