Northview, Southview, and Ottawa Hills High School students are putting hammers to nails, constructing a wood facade for the Olander Park System’s Jack Callahan Office Building.
Bob Johnson, construction technology teacher at Southview High School, is overseeing the work of 16 junior students as they spend five weeks making construction repairs to the park’s main building, named after one of the parks founding fathers, Jack Callahan.
Every morning from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., the young men work on placing cedar planks on the building that houses the administrative offices. During a recent work session, the students were spending a day outdoors in the sun while providing a service for the community park.
“It’s a cool way to start your day,” said Skylar Gilbert, 17, a Northview student and Sylvania resident.
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He and several students concentrated on adhering each piece of wood in a straight line that matched up with pieces that adjoined at the corners to cover the building’s exposed exterior wall.
“It’s a big responsibility because it’s something people will see and we’re only juniors, so having us do this is impressive,” said Mohamad Khalil, 17, a Northview student and Sylvania resident. He said he liked remodeling and building things, so learning skills for carpentry may help him in a future construction position.
Mr. Johnson infuses teamwork into the project. The young men worked together at sawing, measuring pieces, and painting. But the students also joked around with each other in a way that showed they had a bond and relationship among peers and with their instructor.
At times, Mr. Johnson would be stern, ensuring their work was done with professionalism, perfection, and no distractions, such as cell phones. But other times, he encouraged good work by complimenting a clean line of wood that fit perfectly around an electrical outlet. “We teach them construction technology, carpentry, plumbing, and HVAC, everything so when they leave school they know what trades are out there and open for apprenticeship,” Mr. Johnson said.
He pointed to the various projects students had built over the years at Olander Park, including a shelter house and the shade deck on the lake’s beach.
“They are a big help,” said Dave Woodcock, the park’s maintenance manager.
Mr. Woodcock said the building’s wooden facade was rotting, so they are replacing it with cedar, which repels insects and rain. The students are also covering the roof line with galvanized metal to protect it from the elements. In total, the park is paying $4,300 for materials.
“You can’t beat it, and their classroom is outside,” Mr. Woodcock said.