There are many lessons taught inside a classroom that do not come from a textbook.
Ken Fletcher’s advanced carpentry students at Northside High School learned some important ones this week.
The group of students spent Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 25 and 26, building a bus stop shelter near the entrance of the Donald W. Reynolds Crisis Intervention Center in Fort Smith. But this bus stop shelter isn’t just your typical shelter.
The small wood building sits on a cement pad surrounded on three sides by a wood privacy fence. Two brown painted wooden benches sit inside and rafters and the beams that support the shingled roof are painted with brightly colored stenciled animals.
The shelter will be a safe haven for children, staying at the shelter, as they wait for the school bus each morning.
“Before they had to be in the open. They had to stand there waiting for the bus by the gate in the weather in the open,” said Allison Davis, executive director of the crisis center. “Now they are covered on three sides. They are in a safe and sheltered environment.”
The shelter is a community project Fletcher’s class has been working on for weeks. Much of the work was done in the classroom as students learned the necessary skills of carpentry. Then the pieces were brought over Tuesday morning, and the students went to work putting it up, roofing the top and completing the finishing details.
“It’s a great thing for these students. They are getting the experience of making sure it is done properly, but they are getting much more out of it,” Fletcher said.
What they are getting out of it is the lessons that don’t come from a textbook, he added.
“Sometimes the work you do, you aren’t compensated with money. I tell them that. But it’s that feeling you get in your heart when you do something good for your community. I tell them their compensation comes here,” Fletcher said, tapping at his chest to indicate his heart.
“I truly believe if you do good for your community, it will come back to you. That’s why my advanced classes do community services projects.”
This is lesson is one his students take to heart as well.
“It makes me feel good that I’m helping someone. I like that we’re having fun with the class and helping each other and working together,” said Juan Lopez, a senior. “Mr. Fletcher has taught us important things like how to square things off and how to build and how to roof and how to make things look good, but this class has also taught us how to work together and how to do things help others.”
Fletcher learned of the need for the bus stop shelter last spring when his class made headboards for the shelter’s bedrooms.
All materials for the project were donated. Fawn Graham, pro department supervisor at The Home Depot, was on hand to Wednesday to lend a hand and offer expert advise as needed. The Home Depot is a Northside High School Partner in Education.
Ricardo Araujo, from left, and Carlos Contreras paint colorful animals on the roof support beams of the bus stop shelter members of the Advanced Carpentry class at Northside High School constructed for the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House.