By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – ‘Tis the season for giving, and some high school students in Colorado are giving more than toys and canned food to families in need. They’re building houses for them, in math class!

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It’s the result of a partnership between schools and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. The goal is to teach kids how to apply math in the real world, while helping out families in need.

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Chris Pijanowski, a student at Columbine High School, says he always planned to go into construction.

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“But I never thought I would in high school, for a class,” he said.

Columbine is one of 15 area schools that offers Geometry in Construction.

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“We build a house with kids, and we teach them all their math while we do it,” said Scott Burke, who started the program 13 years ago.

RELATED: Habitat For Humanity Partners With Schools To Build New Kind Of Homes

Green Mountain High School is the first to work with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. An all-girl crew, that included Saranja Jones, put the final touches on the school’s Habitat home.

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“Not to brag, but I think we work harder than the guys in our class too.”

But the students will tell you it’s about more than construction or geometry. It’s about helping those in need.

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Pijanowski says, “I just think it’s a very cool and unique experience that we get to build a house for maybe those slightly less fortunate and be able to give back to the community through math class during school.”

Columbine math teacher Andrea Sardoni says that’s the most important lesson the program teaches.

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“So often kids are very self-centered. They’re in their own little world, and this gives them that picture that there’s something beyond and that they can affect that world beyond.”

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Burke says it’s an education the kids will benefit from for the rest of their lives.

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“They’re getting an awesome opportunity to give back to local families in need through this process. So beyond math, beyond construction, they’re going to remember that for a lifetime. I’ve been doing this a really long time and I can tell you that I have seen this program change kids’ lives.”

It also changes the lives of families who eventually move into the homes. See Part II of our series.

Shaun Boyd

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