Hometown Habitat News

Around the House: Community rallies for LHS Habitat project

Instructor Dan McCauley helps Leesburg High School Construction Academy student Austin Marshall with plumbing on a project in 2018. [Daily Commercial file]

The upcoming school year for the Leesburg High School Construction Academy promises to be exciting, challenging and very rewarding as the students are partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter to build a home for a local family. The home will be constructed at 107 North 12th Street in Leesburg, which is just off Main Street and close to First Baptist Church of Leesburg. Although the owners o

f the home have not been determined by Habitat, the approval process should be completed by the group in early fall.

“Habitat for Humanity is a hand up, not a handout,” said Kent Adcock, president and CEO of Habitat, adding that the group has a qualification process that requires “sweat equity” homeownership for each project.

The Construction Academy’s Habitat project is a community project that is truly a collaborative effort.

The revamped Construction Academy was one of the top priorities of incoming Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay, who mustered the construction industry to support an $866,000 grant from the state of Florida. Through the efforts of Kornegay and the Lake County School Board, LHS received the grant last summer. Lynnea Weissman, grant project manager for Career and College Readiness, was tasked by Lake County Schools to develop the construction program and institute Kornegay’s vision.

A great deal of the success of the project is owed to State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan and State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who championed the grant in the Florida Legislature.

Weissman assembled an advisory board of local leaders who committed to the program’s success by meeting monthly to help develop a career pathway for students in the construction trades. The board brought real world construction expertise to the academy and helps with mentorships, training, demonstrations and the development of soft skills needed for employment. The board also assisted in setting up the first Academy of Construction Technologies (ACT), which allows member construction companies to hire students for summer paid internships. Students in the LHS Construction Academy now have the opportunity to work in real construction jobs at very attractive pay rates. Plus, these students are seeing firsthand the lucrative jobs offered in the building trades.

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