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Pounding out a new press box

Eight-graders put hammers to nails to replace rotted, ripped down box

Brent Boyer

Johnny Walker’s Steamboat Springs Middle School shop class usually is quiet during the summer.

But last week, the sounds of hammer to nail and power saw to wood broke the typical summer silence of the Strawberry Park area.

The construction that took place between the middle school and its athletic field was the continuation of a project begun last year with students in Walker’s eighth-grade applied technology class. The mission: to build a football-field press box to replace the rotted one that school officials ripped down earlier in the school year because of safety concerns.

“I was kind of looking for a summer project,” Walker said Wednesday as a group of nine rising eighth-graders worked diligently on the framework of the new structure. “It’s just like a regular school class. It’s summer school.”

Walker and the students only had one week to work on the press box, which probably will be finished after the school year begins this fall. The nine students who chose to work on the project last week will earn community service hours they need to graduate from the middle school.

For most of the students, dedicating a week of their summer vacations to a school project was an easy decision.

“They’re shop junkies,” Walker said.

Eighth-grader Andrea Simon is used to working with her hands. She often spends time working with her dad, a craftsman.

“I really like to build,” Simon said. “I think it’s really fun to be able to make something that people will look at and use for a long time.”

Though she admitted it was “kind of weird” being the only female student to work on the press box, she said she’s excited to be able to sit back and enjoy the finished product.

For student Ian Noble, last week’s work served two purposes.

“I really wanted to get community service hours, and I really enjoy doing this, so it’s a double bonus,” said Noble, who enjoys working with his hands and spending time with his friends.

“We’ve gotten a lot further than anyone expected us to.”

The $2,000 project wouldn’t exist without the support of several individuals and businesses in the community, Walker said.

Alpine Lumber, BMC West Building Materials and Steamboat Lumber each donated about $500 worth of supplies, mainly lumber. Mitch Wunder provided the engineering review necessary for state approval of the project. Herald Stout and Northwestern Supplies also donated services and supplies.

“I thought we were going to have to build it with scrap lumber,” Walker said. “All of these people contributed to this project. It’s not costing a penny.”

As for the project’s educational value, Walker said students are learning hands-on, basic construction.

The project “has all the elements of a small house,” he said. And the timing of the work fits with the school district’s recent focus on vocational training for district students, Walker said.

“It’s (with) projects like this that kids can develop great skills,” he said. “It’s kind of fun that this is happening right when people are starting to look at our vocational education.”

The 8-by-12 foot structure features a locking door and will include swinging window panels. The press box’s final placement will be determined in the fall by school officials.

Walker applauded the work ethic of the nine students and said the quality of work was good for their level of experience.

“Enthusiasm is fantastic, and the pay’s pretty low,” Walker joked.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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