• Rafael Cadena, left, and Er-ic Botello repair an electric motor to be used in a jointer at the Fredericksburg High School shop during the 2016 spring semester.

Educating with old world values

Local builders association wants to bring passion back to high school trades programs


In an effort to revive the German work ethic, a group of local Fredericksburgers have set their sights on training a workforce and building pride in the local high school building trades program.

The Hill Country Builders’ Association Wine Country Division plans to bring a tiny house project to the Fredericksburg High School Building Trades program this fall.

“We’re gonna design it and students will build it on campus,” said Richard Laughlin, local builder and chair of the trades program committee. “What we’re really trying to push is pride in the craftsmanship in the trades. That’s what Fredericksburg used to be, which I think there’s a generation there that kind of lost that.”

The building trades program got a boost when Fredericksburg Independent School District administrators hired Roger Condra for the 2015-16 school year.

Condra, who has building experience and a master’s degree, wanted to return Texas with his wife. After living in Arizona for 25 years, he took the job at FHS.

He was a general contractor in San Antonio in the 1980s. In addition, he is certified in carpentry and construction technology.

In Arizona, he taught students how to frame houses, put on roofs and lay bricks. Using these skills, his students worked with the local Habitat for Humanity group.

Condra said in past years, building trades training at FHS flourished, but it had declined in recent years.

Laughlin, a 1978 graduate of the program, owns and operates Laughlin Homes & Restoration said he remembers that when he was in school at FHS, the building trades students built an entire house. 

And that is what Condra and the builders’ association hopes to restore to the curriculum. 

“This program has been in effect for a long time, but has been floundering for the last two or three years,” he said. “Students had been building picnic tables and chairs, but I want them to learn how to build houses.”


One-year resurgence

Under Condra’s instruction, the program took one first place trophy and two second place in the Skills USA trades program district competition and one student placed in state this year.


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Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228