By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Educating a skilled workforce has become an important focus for vocational schools around the country.

Madison Park High School in Boston is in the middle of an ambitious project this school year: building a house! Students aren’t only learning the basics of construction; they’re getting ready for the 21st century economy.

The students are enthusiastic: “I really enjoy building creating something out of nothing,” one student says.

“I love working with my hands,” adds another.

At 16 North Avenue in Roxbury, there’s a house being built with great care and great generosity – all supplies and equipment were donated

“Working on this house is pretty amazing because we’re doing this and it’s going to be here for a long time,” said senior Jazeel Mendes.

Madison Park students like Jazeel, in partnership with non-profit YouthBuild Boston, overseen by the carpenters union, broke ground in September, and will finish the project in June.

Jazeel’s headed to Union College on a full scholarship to study construction management.

House in Roxbury being built by Madison Park HS students. (WBZ-TV)

House in Roxbury being built by Madison Park HS students. (WBZ-TV)

The project’s been hard work and meaningful for Jazeel.

“Imagine like 20, 30 years from now coming by with my kids,” he says, “and oh – I had a part in that – that’s something that will forever be in my heart. That’s exciting.”

This program is all about jobs – taking 11th and 12th grade students out of the classroom and giving them real world work experience.

It’s given senior Carl Beaubeof experience, confidence and a sense that what he’s doing here is more than a just another assignment to be completed

“I want to join the union when I leave high school and this gives me a step ahead of the competition out there,” he says. “It’s like when you built a little bird house when you were little and you get that great feeling that a bird actually lives in there and now it’s on a bigger scale – people will actually live in there and you’re leaving a mark on the neighborhood.”

Instructor Vinny Fanuele says amid the hammers and saws what he’s really teaching is character.

“It’s good to work, it’s good to be a decent citizen and that’s my training – that’s my best thing,” he says. “It’s a lot of work building a house – but after starting a house this year I will push to build a house as long as I’m at Madison Park – what we’re doing here is big.”

The house on North Avenue will be for a first time moderate income buyer in the City of Boston and will be energy-star rated.

The house is about halfway done – we plan to go back and show you the completed house in June.

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Paula Ebben

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