PENDLETON — Some Pendleton Heights Middle School students finished off their 2021-22 school year with a true hands-on experience.
You can study, read and learn, but there’s something about actually doing the work that makes the learning experience so much better.
Longtime PHMS teacher Travis Welpott’s Construction Technology class wrapped up work at the end of the school year on what he called “our biggest” project.
In his 19th year of teaching at the school, Welpott had his class build a storage building for the school’s baseball and softball teams. At least that’s what it started out to be.
Originally planned to be similar to a garden-shed-sized storage building, the project has grown from “a little mini-barn to almost a mini-house.”
Along with being set up for storage, Welpott believes the students’ work has turned the building into a structure that could be used as a concession stand and possibly a press box for announcing.
“This was a neat project for us,” Welpott said. “We’re trying to be more of a feeder to our high school program. They’ve got their building trades program. They’re building barns, add-on garages — they’ve done a few in town. They are doing some real nice work. Our class, we’re trying to teach them fundamentals and basics of it.”
Welpott said there has been great interest from students. He has around 30 or more kids in six different classes. He has an intro to industrial technology classes, advanced industrial technology, and a second advanced class in construction technology.
“If kids want engineering stuff, we have something for them. If kids want a more hands-on, construction-type class, we have something for them,” Welpott said.
He said most of the kids in the construction class are eighth graders, and male, but he has seventh graders and some females in class, too.
“We have a little bit of everybody,” he added.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed it, being out with my friends and how we have got to build together as a team,” eighth-grader Seth Easterday said. “We started off slow. After the siding was up there was a job for just about everybody to do. We usually have a three-man crew running on siding, with two cutting and one using the air-nailer, and we’ve got guys going around painting and caulking.”
Welpott said, through all of his classes, they’ve probably had 120-130 kids do some kind of working with the facility, which is located behind the backstop of the middle school’s ball field.
Plus, they’ve had extra help from kids that are part of the next-level classes at Pendleton Heights High School.
Hayden Benefiel, an eighth-grader, said he took the intro class and one of the advanced classes as a seventh grader.
“This will benefit me because I’m going to go to trade school and I like working with my hands,” he said.
Benefiel said, along with learning how to build the structure, he and his classmates have learned about communication and self-control.
“It feels good when you build something and are able to see it all come together,” he added.
Eighth-grader Preston Wolfe mentioned other lessons he and the crew has learned.
“We’ve learned about teamwork, getting closer and working well together,” said Wolfe, who added that he would like to get into the construction business. “I’ve learned how to put siding on and how to just work together to get stuff done.”
Welpott wants to use his classes to help prepare kids for more advanced learning at the high school level. He sees that they are well on their way to that, and more.
“We’re giving these (students) great career possibilities,” he said.