By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen Post-Tribune correspondent January 18, 2013 3:06PM
Gary (Ind.) Career Center instructor Alexander Howard helps New Tech Innovative Institute student Sylvia Barham, 15, design blueprints for the "My Dream Home — Mission Impossible" project on Jan. 17, 2013. | Photo Provided~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 22, 2013 6:08AM
When students designed an architectural blueprint for a new gated subdivision in Gary, the classroom assignment quickly transformed into high hopes for a real-life construction project.
“My Dream Home — Mission Impossible” has great potential, said Chandra Jacobs, New Tech Innovative Institute geometry and graphics arts integrated course instructor.
“The sky is the limit,” she said. “The ninth- and 10th-graders have also established the needed partnerships to make the dream a reality.”
Partners for the classroom assignment include Habitat for Humanity, the Gary Zoning Board, Economic Development Department, Powers & Sons Construction Co., and others. Computer Aided Design allows students to create real-life architectural blueprints.
“At first, I thought it was just another project, because we have project-based learning at our school,” said Evan Heard, 16. “Then, midway through the assignment, we realized we could actually do this.”
The 42 students at the Gary Career Center have high hopes to build 10 dream homes in the recently demolished Ivanhoe Gardens vacant lot. Habitat for Humanity construction manager Scott Cearing is listed as a partner for the project.
“I will make myself available to address questions,” he said, “but there remains no ongoing commitment on Habitat’s part.”
Other partners agreed their involvement is based on the project being a classroom assignment. But students are hoping the project will take on a structure of its own.
Sylvia Barham, 15, said, “We have all the tools we need.”
However, Jacobs said a lawyer is needed to patent the project and a banker for financial backing.
New Tech director Esther Goodes said the mission is possible.
“But if community partners don’t support our youth, it won’t work,” she said.
Students agreed if it’s possible to rebuild houses in Ivanhoe Gardens, they also can rebuild the reputation of urban youth.
“I didn’t have much faith in it at first,” said Stephanie Jamison, 15. “But, because black kids are looked down on so badly, it’s making us want it even more.”
They’re aiming to rebuild the image of black teens in Gary.
“Everybody in Gary schools are not dumb like some people think,” said Destiny Collins, 16. “We put everything we had into this.”
Students are divided into 10 groups and required to design a handicapped-accessible home, a scale-model blueprint, eight geometric shapes, and name the new subdivision. The final step requires students to deliver a formal presentation to their partners.
“When I first heard about the assignment, it was about getting an A,” said Lonnie Allen, 14. “But now I want us to actually see the houses go up.”