By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Student training gets pooches doghouses made to order
Nathan Porter, 13, paints the side of a doghouse he helped build Tuesday as part of the Extreme Experiences camp. The camp, which covers careers in construction, hospitality and more, exposes students to vocational opportunities. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Some lucky pooches from the Humane Society of Hall County will go from rags to riches when they get a doghouse made by Hall County middle schoolers.

With the help of volunteer high school students, 11 middle school students from various county schools spent this week building 10 doghouses for "Habitat for Hounds" at the Home Depot on Dawsonville Highway.

The students constructed, painted and shingled the houses as part of Hall County school system’s "Extreme Experiences" career summer camp from Monday to Thursday. "Habitat for Hounds" is the construction track of the five-track summer career experience program.

Baker Pulliam is a Chestatee High School construction teacher and helped West Hall High School construction teacher Mike Madsen orchestrate the dog house project.

Pulliam said other tracks of the summer camp allow students to try their hand at culinary arts, digital media, health care or hospitality and tourism. Most of the camps are anchored out of Lanier Career Charter Academy.

The hospitality and tourism arm of the camp takes students to work at Château Élan and Lake Lanier Islands Resort.

Madsen said the "Extreme Experience" camps aim to show middle school kids there’s plenty of options after high school and learning a trade like construction is just one of them.

"All these programs are going on to introduce middle school kids to different career options," he said. "Not all of these kids are going to college. ... Giving them an idea of what they want to go into, they’re not going to high school blind. They’re getting on a career track — not that they can’t change it — but at least they have an idea and a place to start."

Madsen said teachers are hoping the career-oriented camps will reduce the system’s high school dropout rate.

Jacklyn Cloyes, a rising eighth-grader at Chestatee Middle, said this week was the first time she ever had used a miter saw, a nail gun and hammers to build something. Her house sported green polka dots.

"It turned out fun, but it’s hard, though," she said. "Especially at the beginning because you had to nail your own nails in."

Her father, Wayne Cloyes, works at the contractor desk at the Gainesville Home Depot and said his kids participated in the camp because he "wanted them to get out of the house and learn to do something."

Russell Cross, manager of the Home Depot on Dawsonville Highway, said the store was glad to donate tools and supplies for the doghouses.

Pulliam said because the doghouse projects benefit animals in the community, students have been pretty motivated to build them even in the summer heat.

"Knowing what they’re doing with them and knowing where they’re going, it gives them a sense of ownership," he said.

Jeremy "Mickey" Hart is a rising seventh-grader at Chestatee Middle. He said he’s been excited about the project because he loves dogs.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do this is because I got my dog from the Humane Society, and I want to help other dogs," he said. "My dog Max is 10 months old and he’s some kind of spaniel."

Madsen said the construction campers also will learn about the carpentry, masonry, roofing, plumbing and electrical aspects of building.

Regional events