When a parent asks their child what they did during a typical day at school, rarely are they prepared for their child to respond with, "We built a house." Such ambitious projects are generally unheard of within the public-school curriculum unless, of course, their student is attending the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) located in Hartsville, SC.
Students from GSSM partnered with Darlington County Habitat for Humanity during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years to build an affordable family home in Hartsville on Mill Avenue, just near the GSSM campus. GSSM students participated throughout construction including framing, flooring, landscaping, and painting.
On Sunday, December 8th, GSSM students joined Darlington County Habitat for Humanity to dedicate the new home and hand the keys to their newest neighbor.
GSSM students contributed significantly to the completion of this home during 2019. This will be the fifth home completed with the assistance of GSSM students since the Fall of 2017 and the 50th home built by Darlington County Habitat for Humanity.
Mark Haenchen, executive director for Darlington County Habitat for Humanity, could not be more enthusiastic about the efforts of the GSSM students. "Working with the students from GSSM continues to be a wonderful experience," he commented, adding that "these students are so gifted and have quickly learned to do a professional job; making a big impact on construction program.
Building a home challenged students with practical applications of their lessons in mathematics, physics, and engineering while providing a change of pace from the regular daily tasks of high school. "Habitat for Humanity has allowed me to meet so many amazing people and make a difference in our community. I have learned so much about myself and what it means to be altruistic through my experience with this organization. I will always be grateful to Habitat for Humanity for allowing me to help others and grow as a person," said Peyton Gregory (GSSM Class of 2021).
Students also gained first-hand experience with the challenges of turning conceptualized plans into reality, a process facilitated by the real-world know-how of Habitat for Humanity's knowledgeable construction managers.
"One of GSSM’s missions is to develop ethically aware leaders. Students volunteering their precious time to build affordable, quality homes for our neighbors in need reflects their commitment to making the world a better place now and in the future," said Dr. Josh Witten, GSSM Director of Research and Inquiry and member of the Darlington County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.
In addition to the rigorous coursework and research projects, GSSM students participate in a wide variety of community service projects. GSSM students recognized the partnership with Habitat for Humanity as the "Best Community Service Project" for the 2017-2018 school year at their annual Student Follies awards.
The dedication ceremony on Sunday not only marked the successful conclusion of one project but also a continuing commitment to the Darlington County community. GSSM students have already contributed to progress on three additional Habitat for Humanity homes in 2019.
About Darlington County Habitat for Humanity
Started in 1996, Darlington County Habitat for Humanity is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God's love into action by building homes, communities and hope. Darlington County Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman, and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.
Founded in Americus, Georgia, USA, in 1976, Habitat for Humanity today operates around the globe and has helped build, renovate and repair decent, affordable houses sheltering more than 9.8 million people worldwide.