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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2005

Northwood: 40th Penta birthday marked by new house

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bob Keller, front, and Dan Weirich work on the Habitat for Humanity house on Woodmore Street in Northwood. Bob Keller, front, and Dan Weirich work on the Habitat for Humanity house on Woodmore Street in Northwood.
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The school nurse carried construction equipment, a computer teacher crouched on the ground slicing sheets of plastic tarp, and a retired administrator, a program supervisor, and a maintenance worker stapled foamy insulation into an unfinished wall.

Penta Career Center employees from all parts of the school worked together on Saturday as they built a Habitat for Humanity house on Woodmore Street in Northwood. Penta staff and students are building the house as a community service project to commemorate the school's 40th anniversary.

"We wanted to give back to the community for all the years they've supported Penta," carpentry instructor Tim Blanchard said. "Everybody has been helping out."

Penta, which offers vocational classes for about 1,400 area students, started building the house last month. Students in the electrical, carpentry, and masonry programs work on the house during the week and staff members volunteer on weekends.

Students in Penta's construction trades program have been working with Habitat for Humanity to build houses since the 1970s, but this is the first time the school's entire staff has been invited to participate.

"I've always wanted to work on a Habitat house," said Rose Parker, a secretary at Penta. She and Rose Szczepanski, who also works as a secretary, prepared food for all the volunteers on Saturday.

"I wanted to hang trusses and they just wouldn't let me, so I decided to make Sloppy Joes instead," Ms. Szczepanski said.

Students built the frame of the house in the carpentry workshop at Penta and transported it to Northwood in 16 sections a few weeks ago. Now, the house has vinyl siding installed, a finished roof, and insulated walls. The volunteers are starting to put up drywall this week and are planning to dedicate the house on May 16.

"The weather really killed us the first three weeks, but since then, it's been coming along really well," Mr. Blanchard said. "We're only about a week behind the original schedule."

The three-bedroom house, which would sell for about $75,000 on the market, is being built for James Reynolds and Janet Brown and their two children.

"Penta has been working really hard," said Mr. Reynolds, a Northwood resident who helped with landscaping at his soon-to-be new home. "It shows that people care and there's hope out there for everybody."

Local businesses donated almost all the materials for the house, which is being built entirely by Penta students and staff volunteers.

Dan Wyandt, a computer instructor, and Dan Weirich, supervisor of Penta's business program, did construction work as summer jobs during college. They said they enjoyed being able to help build the Habitat house.

"It's fun to get back out and maybe learn some tricks I can use at home," Mr. Weirich said.

Peggy Armstrong, Penta's school nurse, has worked for several weekends at the house and is helping coordinate volunteers. She said many staff members have been helping.

"It's a great project, helping out other people and getting to work with staff in a different capacity," she said. "It's also great to see the students at work."



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