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District 214 Students Build a Community Center for Veterans

Published May 10, 2022

Students and teachers from two District 214 schools have been giving back this year—as part of a unique opportunity to help out military veterans.

The District 214 team has been working in partnership with the Nine Line Foundation, an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of severely injured veterans and their families. The foundation purchased property in Georgia with the goal of establishing the Golden Isles Veterans’ Village, a community for veterans to live, learn and heal before moving on with their lives.

This year, Architecture and Construction students at Buffalo Grove and Rolling Meadows high schools built ten “tiny homes” to serve as short-term housing at the village. But then the team took on a bigger project: constructing an 1800-sq. ft. community center for the veterans’ village.

The community center was completed and the partnership celebrated at an event in late April. The construction team members, District leaders, community partners and government representatives gathered to dedicate the community center, with former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn presenting the keynote address.

The community center will be broken down into smaller sections and shipped to the village in Brunswick, Ga., where volunteers will reassemble the building and add the roof.

“These students are building the framework for the entire village,” said Nine Line Foundation president and CEO Megan Hostler. “They’re helping us help veterans move on with their lives.”

The project not only has offered students a service project—but also a chance to hone their skills. “This has been an opportunity for us to give back to our veterans, but also to allow our students to learn about the construction trades—for instance, the idea that not everything is built on site is another learning opportunity,” said Rolling Meadows High School division head Dave Wietrzak. This capstone project, he said, is the first time students in the Construction Management and Building Trades Pathway have had the chance to build something so large.

Added Wietrzak: “Without the teachers, this wouldn’t be possible.”

One of those teachers, Sean Murrin, Buffalo Grove High School technology education teacher, said, “Students start to realize they’re not just building things, they’re changing lives. For me that’s what I love about this project.”