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GROUNDBREAKING FOR STRONGER COMMUNITIES | Lee County Schools Career & Technical Education (CTE) Programs partner with Habitat for Humanity to construct two new homes in Sanford for local families

SANFORD, NC – The crisp air carried the brilliance of an autumn sunrise through the fall foliage of the Sandhills. Students from Southern Lee and Lee County High Schools' Career & Technical Education programs gathered at construction sites alongside local dignitaries and two Sanford families. They were there to break ground on two new Habitat for Humanity homes that Lee County Schools high school students would build.

Thanks to a newly formed partnership between Lee County Schools and Habitat for Humanity, students will gain hands-on construction experience while contributing to the construction of homes within their community.

Kimberly Rau, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity's Sanford Area Chapter, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, saying, “I think it is a great partnership for both organizations. It gives the students hands-on experience learning trade skills that they can use throughout their life, regardless of their future career paths. Hopefully, it opens the door for some of them to pursue trades or apprenticeships, equipped with experience to hit the ground running.”

Dr. Chris Dossenbach, the recently appointed Superintendent for Lee County Schools, joined the groundbreaking ceremony with Board of Education Chairperson Sherry Womack. Dossenbach, visibly pleased, remarked, “We are excited to be a part of these Habitat for Humanity projects here in Sanford. These two homes will provide our students an opportunity for hands-on learning in the skilled trades while reinforcing the importance of community service and civic engagement.”

Jon Hart, owner of Jon Hart Construction and the general contractor for the builds, stressed the significance of such opportunities in maintaining interest in trade careers. “It is pretty tough to find skilled workers now. These Habitat projects are a great opportunity to have more kids interested in local trades. We hope that it helps us have people able to work for our company and other companies in the area.”

Hart's business partner, John Hatch, emphasized the value of trade education, stating, “I think it is very valuable to have construction trades being taught in Lee County Schools. You can't really put a price on it. It allows you to start work right out of high school. That means you don't have to accumulate college debt like others around you will.”

Notably, the two houses under construction are destined for families with children attending Lee County Schools. Rau expressed, “It is a beautiful thing! Really, it is divine intervention. We are excited for our families and their children. We are excited for Lee County Schools. It really brings the community together. That is what we are doing, building strong communities.”

Standing amidst a group of active first-grade students from Deep River Elementary, who made the trip to witness their classmate Zion’s new home site, Dr. Dossenbach couldn't help but smile wider. “The fact that each of these homes will be going to a family whose children attend Lee County Schools is an added blessing. We are thrilled to be a part of building our community in real and tangible ways while giving students and families what they need to thrive.”

James Alverson