ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local high school students and CNM Ingenuity students are working together to build an environmentally friendly and affordable home in the Barelas neighborhood. The sound of saws and hammers is the sound of class in session for these students.

“It’s that hands-on experience that you don’t get from reading a book or online classes, having that screen that divides you and the other person,” said Michael Grier, one of the CNM carpentry students. Seniors from ACE Leadership High School also work on the house, through a partnership with Future Focused Education’s X3 Intersnhip program.

“In COVID, it’s great to get out and do stuff…We’ve been trying to do hands-on learning at home, we’ve been delivering supplies. Kids have been doing framing at home but just the opportunity to get their hands on tools, apply the learning and contribute, and understand what they’re learning, they just love it. They’re really excited to go on-site,” Justin Trager, Principal of ACE Leadership High School, said.

The CNM students have built about five mock homes which they take apart too. Thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit organization, Homewise, this house will stay up and eventually be sold.

“It’s just awesome to see these guys out here really contributing to the community but then also building on the skills that they get in the classroom. So it’s fun to see that education doesn’t just have to be in the classroom. You can get just as much if not more if you’re out in the field working,” said Jeff DeBellis, a Senior Program Manager from CNM Ingenuity.

“Everything has to be perfect. Where in a learning environment, eh – it’s good enough. This is, it has to be on from the foundation all the way up to the roof,” said carpentry program instructor at CNM Lee Dutcher. With extra insulation and electric appliances, the three-bedroom and two-bath house is set to be LEED-certified. While students are taking in all they can, they and instructors said the assignment is also about giving.

“I consider it giving back,” Rooster Bales, a CNM Ingenuity student, said. “I get to do things for other people.”

“Knowing that there’s going to be a family, some type of connection between the homeowner and this house, it goes back to that surreal feeling of just wow,” Grier said. The home is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Homewise said the home will sell at market value but the nonprofit will help a low to median income buyer with the down payment to help make it affordable. This project was possible due to a grant from Lowe’s and some help from PNM and a School of Applied Technologies’ National Science Foundation Grant. If there is any money made in the home sale, it will go back into this collaboration so another home can be built.