(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON - When Sikeston Public Schools Board of Education felt the high school campus needed a facility for hosting activities such as tennis tournaments, the Hall of Fame/Wall of Fame dinner and class reunions they thought who better to accomplish the job than the district's own students.
"We needed a project to utilize their skills and the district had explored the possibility of a structure in the past. The match seemed perfect," explained Dr. Larry Bohannon, assistant superintendent of curriculum development and staff development. "This project allowed students to utilize skills developed in the classroom setting and shop setting to create a real work application."
It took the Sikeston Career and Technology Centerstudents from the spring of 2001 to the fall of 2002 to complete the 40-foot-by-84-foot pavilion which is located next to the football stadium.
One aspect of the project Laura Hendley has been especially pleased with is that it was a cooperative effort. "The students in Steve Hamra's construction technology class did the physical building, Clay Hunter's drafting class drew the plans and the ag class laid the sod and did some of the landscaping around it," remarked the SCTC director.
"I think it's been a phenomenal project for our students to have the opportunity to work on," Hendley said. "The skills that they've learned are ones that they can take right out on the street in the world of work and utilize with Bridger Construction, a construction company in St. Louis or any construction company."
She noted the large size of the pavilion presented challenges for the students, giving them unique experiences they may not have received with other types of projects.
Hamra, who teaches the construction technology course, pointed out the experiences with the project have included everything from plumbing, electrical work and pouring concrete to framing, excavating and roofing.
"They had a hand in it all," said Hamra. "It was more of a learning experience for me as far as what I can expect from them and what I can't. The students have done extremely well, especially when you consider that some of them have never even held a power tool or swung a hammer."
The students, juniors and seniors, involved in the project are proud of their finished product, but most admit it was somewhat harder than they had anticipated.
The biggest challenge, said Adam Wicker, was the preliminary work. "We had to dig a hole out of a hill by hand at the very beginning before we brought in a backhoe," noted the 19-year-old. "The most enjoyable part was probably when the crane was brought in and we set the trusses on to make a roof, the crane did all the work.
He added he found the biggest surprise to be the amount of time it takes to shingle a roof. "If you mess up on one, you've messed up the whole thing,: Wicker cautioned. "I also didn't realize how much math you had to know and how precise you had to be on everything. You've got to think ahead 100 percent. If this is going to do this, you have to make sure it goes with that, otherwise it's like finding a needle in a haystack. A project like this definitely tells you if you're in shape or not," he joked. "At times you feel like your arm's going to fall off. I found out I'm in pretty good shape, though."
Hendley says she sees more projects such as this in the future for Sikeston Public Schools students as an outlet for hands-on construction.
"I think these classroom projects are a win-win situation," said Hendley. "I'm very pleased with what the finished project looks like," she said. "It is beautiful and ties together our campus and provides spaces for the community to use. It has a wonderful roof on it, it's dry, it's contained, it has water and other facilities right there so close that just make it so functional and usable by many groups and we're really tickled to have it. It's a wonderful asset to our campus, to our community and to our school district."
Residents are invited to a dedication ceremony for the pavilion at 7 p.m. May 6, in conjunction with the annual chicken fry which is in recognition and appreciation of the school athletes, their parents and community supporters.
"We want the community to know that the pavilion is complete and we invite residents to come and see the fine work the students, teachers, and building/grounds crew have accomplished," Bohannon added.