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Construction-tech students get hands-on to aid Flower Hospital


Bob Johnson, left, leads a group of construction-technology students from Northview and Southview high schools in roofing a gazebo behind the Goerlich Center at Flower Hospital.

The Blade/Lisa Dutton
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It was time to put roofing shingles on the new gazebo behind the Goerlich Center at Flower Hospital one morning last week, and Bob Johnson was mostly content to stand back in the shadows and let the dozen or so construction-technology students from Sylvania Northview and Southview high schools do their work.

But when one of them held a shingle into place upside down, he stepped up to point out the imminent error, and also to explain why shingles should be applied from the roof's edge on up.

"I've never worn a tool belt with kids. It's their project. I want them to learn from this," said Mr. Johnson in his 20th year as a construction-tech teacher at Southview.

Projects such as the gazebo help students develop their skills doing practical work, and often gets them outdoors, too, Mr. Johnson said.

"They're doing a good job, and they definitely like working in the sunshine [better] than the snow," the teacher said.

"When the weather gets nasty, that's when we stay indoors and do book work."

The joint Southview-Northview crew started working on the gazebo in late March and has been out every suitable day since, students said.

"Normally at school, we don't get the chance to build something with our hands, and this lets us dowhat we like to do," said Damion Baer, a Northview junior from Sylvania city who hopes to become a

brick mason.

"It's much better than sitting in a classroom getting lectured," agreed Kyle Coomer, a Southview junior who lives in the Toledo portion of the Sylvania school district.

The basic structure was built from a kit provided to Flower Hospital by the MacLaren family, said Lori Johnston, senior vice president of operations for the ProMedica Continuing Care Services Corp., which operates the Goerlich Center, a nursing home for Alzheimer's disease patients that is in the midst of an expansion project.

"It's been great for our senior residents to see the kids out there working," Ms. Johnston said. "It's been entertainment for them."

The gazebo will become the centerpiece of a garden for the patients, surrounded by flowering trees and plants with a view of a small pond that attracts waterfowl.

"It's going to be good for the Alzheimer's patients to be able to relax, enjoy the day, and enjoy themselves," said young Coomer, who hopes to pursue a career in criminal justice but said construction-tech will, at the very least, give some useful handyman skills for maintaining a home.

The gazebo is not the first project Sylvania construction-tech students have undertaken at Flower, Ms. Johnston said.

Students also replaced a dock at Lake Park on the hospital campus, and before the gazebo project, the crew repainted and re-roofed a garage.

The quality of the work they did on the dock, she said, inspired her to offer the gazebo project to Mr. Johnson's class instead of hiring a contractor.

Mr. Johnson said the Olander Park System has also kept his classes busy. Among upcoming projects is a renovation of a shelter house that Sylvania High School carpentry students built in 1967, he noted.

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