Thanks to the hard work of two dozen local youths, the Kenai Central High School track and field and cross-country ski teams will have new equipment facilities for the upcoming seasons.
As part of the Workforce Development Center summer construction academy, for the last two weeks, students have been putting the finishing touches on a storage shed to house track and field equipment and made progress toward completing a wax building for KCHS' ski team.
Students worked Monday through Friday, from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. The WDC summer program concluded Tuesday.
"I love it," said Alex McDonald. "I've done this for three years."
McDonald, 16, said roofing is his favorite aspect of the project. About WDC, he said, "You learn a lot."
"I've never done anything like this before," said Joy Wannamaker, 14. "It's great meeting new people and trying new things."
Wannamker said she participated in the program to gain experience from the class and to try something new.
"It keeps you doing something in the summer time," said incoming junior Steven Harding.
Harding, who focused much of his attention on the track shed, said he's always enjoyed construction.
He said the class teaches students valuable skills for the future.
"I like putting those skills to good use," Harding said.
After the plan to build a storage shed for the City of Kenai behind the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center fell through in May, WDC needed to find another summer project. That's when it got involved with the wax shed project, said Mike Boyle, who runs the center.
The wax shed originally began as a ski team project, Boyle said. He said WDC stepped in to give them a hand.
In the three years the program has been around, Boyle said the 14 that participated this summer has been the program's best turnout.
"This is the most we've ever had," he said.
The program focuses on several different construction aspects, such as carpentry, electrical and roofing, said Steve Schoessler, one of three Kenai WDC teachers.
There are three after-school programs, he said, one in the fall, the winter and spring. Students can earn a half-credit by participating in the course, Schoessler said.
The after-school program is open to all students, no matter which high school they attend.
"It gives the kids an opportunity to learn how to do basic carpentry," Schoessler said. He said the program also gives students a sense of community because they can see what they've worked on throughout the peninsula.
In the past, WDC students have built a locker room at the Conoco Phillips ice arena in Kenai and constructed a building for the forestry service on the Ninilchik state fair grounds.
"That's good for the kids to see something they've done out in the community," Schoessler said.
Mike Nesper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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