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Kistler and Knapp Buildings, Inc.

Olivia O'Neill, a Class of 2023 Carpentry student, at a job site in Concord.

Olivia O'Neill '23, a Carpentry student from Lexington, works on a home renovation project in Concord through Minuteman's Cooperative Education Program.

As a young child, Olivia O’Neill of Lexington loved to play with Legos, bricks, trains, and anything hands-on you could find.

Now, as a senior in the Carpentry career major at Minuteman, Olivia is demolishing walls for a massive renovation project on a 150-year-old home in Concord. She spends every other week working for Kistler and Knapp Builders, Inc., of Acton, through Minuteman’s Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Program.

“It’s definitely a different experience. It’s a first step into the job world,” said Olivia, a member of the Class of 2023. “You’re with older people who are wiser. You get more experience and do more stuff. I love all of it.”

Smashing apart walls, or “demo-ing,” is one highlight of the job. “It’s fun!” she said. “You get dirty. You whack whatever you can.”

Olivia also explained the skills behind the demo that she’s continuing to learn. “First you take the plaster off. Then, there’s lath underneath that, so you have to pry it out.”

In the Carpentry major, Olivia has built cabinets, a beehive, and the framing of a small model home as part of a group project.

At the job site, in addition to demo work, she assists with installing clapboard (wooden house siding) among other tasks.

When asked what grade he’d give Olivia, project supervisor Dan McLaughlin replied, “An A-, only because I want to leave a little room for improvement.”

“It’s just like a sports team. Clubhouse chemistry really matters,” he said. “For the people on the job site, if the chemistry is good, the work gets done and it’s a great place to work. I think Olivia is creating good chemistry.”

Olivia is following in the footsteps of her father, who is a commercial construction supervisor. She’d like to attend college classes to obtain a construction management degree while continuing to work in the field.