Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Assistant Editor 

Students create pavilion for school


Mark Dykes

This summer, students in the Lights On Afterschool Green Construction Academy put their time, talent and tools to work, building a pavilion located at Thermopolis Middle School.

Outgoing Lights On Coordinator Jenny Davis explained the purpose of the Green Construction Academy is to help students learn entry-level skills in the construction field, to help them gain the knowledge they need to apply for entry level positions at worthwhile jobs they can grow on. This year, the program saw five high school students.

The three-week course, Davis further explained, is truly designed to model a job and a workweek. For three weeks, the students worked four 10-hour days every week, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. They had time sheets, were required to clock in and out, and even had to do drug screening.

"We really tried to mimic what it would be like to have a job," Davis said. In addition to learning the job skills, students also earned a stipend of $300 and a tool belt with tools. Of the tool belt, Davis said, it's a resource for the students to have, should they want to continue building.

As for the pavilion itself - to which the students have signed their names with wood burning tools - they had to create designs and draw up blueprints. Davis said much of this work was part of the first week. They then built trusses at the high school shop, though the heat kept them from doing as much as they wanted. Wood was provided through local businesses. As the project was for the district, supplies were paid for through major maintenance funding.

Though some parts got caught up with shipping, Davis noted Instructor Tom Koehler will take students in the Woods class up to the pavilion to finish it.

Davis said this is the second year for Green Construction; last year, students built the picnic tables now housed under the pavilion, as well as two others that were sold, and two custom sheds. Those sheds were sold at cost, and people were also able to donate toward the program.

Student Ashley Brawley stated Green Construction was a lot of fun for her. "I am really not the type to woodwork or build, to be honest, I'm more of a music nerd. This was a huge step outside my comfort zone, and I don't regret it. Mr. Koehler was an awesome teacher and I don't think I'd trade anyone else in for the job. At the end I think that I've learned tons of information that will likely set me a step ahead for class in a couple weeks anyhow. I definitely recommend this to anyone who's even thought about going."

Davis added Austin Ireland really enjoyed the program, and was really enthusiastic about the program and had some great ideas, such as building a house for homeless people.

Coordinator Elisa Daniels plans to keep the Green Construction Academy for next year. "I think it's an awesome opportunity for students to get that experience, especially with an instructor they know from their school."

Davis said it was through the 21st Century Community Learning Center that Green Construction was funded, and Fremont BOCES sponsored the program.


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