Local kids build portable classroom

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2010

A local high school's summer construction academy has begun work on a portable classroom behind Kenai Central High School, a portable that should end up at one of the Peninsula's schools next year.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Daniel Schaeffer works on a shed Wednesday afternoon during the construction academy underway at the Workforce Development Center next to Kenai Central High School.

Mike Boyle, one of two teachers, said that students will build the 24- by 40-foot movable room over a month-long period for half a school credit.

"The class teaches kids skills they will use on their own," co-teacher Steve Schoessler said. "They won't have to call someone in the future."

Schoessler, who teaches welding courses during the school year, said that the metal work these students are doing now is more difficult than that in his classroom.

"They're used to the (welding) booth," he said. "This is actual field work. They can't always get it in the position they want."

The portable classroom can be used for most general education classes with 30 students or less, the teachers said.

Boyle estimated that the kids are likely to complete the floor and begin on the walls by the end of the week. This class focuses on framing, he said. The students will also install the insulation for the portable classroom and finish the flooring.

Boyle said that class started four years ago as a vocational course for high school juniors and seniors interested in construction work. Now, he said, graduated eight graders are also allowed to enroll in the class.

"This was originally an advanced level course," Schoessler said. "But we've opened it up. We take students with any experience."

Both teachers and the students said the summer class increased in popularity this year, evident by the first-time waiting list.

"We had room for 20 students," Schoessler said. "And about 35 signed up."

He attributes the increase in popularity to simple word of mouth. Past projects like the shed behind the high school's football field helped get the word out, he said. "You can always drive by and say, 'I built that.'"

The construction class counts for the school system's practical arts requirement, said Schoessler, which frees up their class schedule during the regular school year.

The students said that they liked the experience and working with tools. A few even expressed interest in building their own houses. All the students seemed to appreciate the class credit.

"I enjoy the environment so much and meeting people from other schools," said KCHS junior Sarah Evenson, who is taking the class a third time. "I'd consider building my own shed. The credit is an added bonus."

Tony Cella can be reached at 335-1242

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