Building a classroom

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

By LISA BRITTON

For the Baker City Herald

Five teenagers and wet cement - and no handprints or initials in sight.

Five students from Baker Middle School spent a couple hours Thursday afternoon shoveling and smoothing cement at a house in South Baker.

The project, now in process for four years, began with a couple grants and an afterschool building group led by Tom Brock.

The property was purchased with grants from Leo Adler Community Foundation, Collins Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust. Also, the school district provided some matching funds.

The ultimate goal is to remodel and sell the house.

But it's the process that counts.

"They've really learned the importance of measurements - they learned it the hard way," said David Frazey, who took over the program two years ago.

That's when the project was changed from an afterschool club to construction classes at BMS. There are three classes - 32 total students - that are bused to the site for their 45-minute sessions.

The project this week was to pour the foundation for a garage behind the house, which will provide a workshop where the builders can use equipment.

"And it's going to serve as a classroom. We needed another building," Frazey said. "It's a win-win because it'll also increase the value of the property."

Students helping on Thursday were Mitch Simonis, Kalani Heiser, Marcus Vinson, Dillon Baggerly and Caleb Smith.

Bill Harvey, a Baker City contractor, is volunteering his time to help with the project. Rick Munson also helped Thursday.

"We've had a lot of volunteer help and that's been fantastic," said Mindi Vaughan, BMS principal. "People are really willing to help out."

She said she'll look for more grants when the current funds run out.

"We've been very frugal with our money," she said.

They have no timeline for completion.

"What's important is teaching these kids life skills," Vaughan said.

And ownership in this house that so many students will have a hand in remodeling.

Anyone who would like to help support this project - especially those willing to volunteer their time - can call Vaughan at BMS, 541-524-2500.

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The Baker City Herald
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