It was bitter sweet.
While the community gathered to celebrate the completion of the seventh home built by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) residential construction students in Williams Lake, they also honoured instructor Ken Poulsen who is retiring after 17 years with the program. Several students and their families returned for the open house, along with members of TRU and the Williams Lake Construction Association (WLCA).
“We have benefited greatly from our relationship with Ken,” WLCA president Sue Zacharias said. “Ken’s been engaged and involved with the apprenticing students and the association in creating a product that trains students and is one we can all stand behind.”
Smiling Poulsen answered he wasn’t getting older it was the students who are getting younger, hence his retirement.
Director of TRU, Ray Sanders, said the residential program is wonderful and could not have happened without the partnerships that exist with the construction association and School District 27.
The school district provides tools, and the construction associaiton provides all the materials and non-carpentry aspects of the home.
Sanders also said the beauty of the program is that it engages students in ways no other program can.
“They use their hands to apply theory and see results immediately. It’s got to be satisfying to be able to that,” Sanders said looking toward the students. “Seriously, you will have a job and skill to take with you now.”
Mayor Kerry Cook congratulated everyone on a job well done.
“It’s a beautiful home. On behalf of the city I want to thank everyone involved,” Cook said.
Gord Armour from SD27 said other districts have been contacting him to find out how the program has been so successful.
“It’s not something that could happen in every community. We sell the home and reimburse all the contractors and then put money away for the next project, as well as into an endowment fund so that we can give out scholarships each year,” Armour said.
When the program first began the classes were offered at Columneetza high school in the after hours, when regular classes had finished, but when TRU built its campus on Western Avenue, the classes were moved there.
Some of the students are enrolled in high school, but take the construction program, while other students are post secondary age.
The new home is located on Tenth Avenue North and is for sale, Zacharias said.