Academy of Construction and Design provides real-world architecture work

Students in the academy are provided real-world construction and architecture experience. (Photo: ABC7)

At the Academy of Construction and Design at D.C.'s Cardozo Senior High School, an unconventional educational setting is teaching students far more than what they could ever learn in the classroom.

The staff at the academy is giving juniors and seniors the necessary skills and tools to start careers in architecture, along with helping them define goals as they head to college.

"In the classroom, you read the book, but when you actually put the stuff together, this is the real difference," Cardozo teacher Marshall Janifer said.

Once a week, the students work with team leaders, teachers and volunteers to work on real-life construction projects. In fact, they built a home in Northwest Washington from the ground up.

"The concrete walls on the side of the house...I cut it, measured it and sent it up," Cardozo student Anndrell McDonald said. "I did that by myself without anyone else."

The hard work is worth it, especially for graduates of the program, like Marie-Louise Ngmbock, who have landed their first jobs.

"It makes me proud of myself," she said.

Outside of construction, the students are learning important life lessons that they just don't get in the classroom.

"Everything they need to make them successful they possess inside," Shelly Karriem, the director of the academy, said. "We teach them that no matter what happens in life, they still can."