High school construction serves as learning lab

Teacher Lary Shoemaker talks about the importance of precision in building

Construction happening outside the classroom windows offers a continuous learning opportunity for high school students, say educators, as cranes and work crews steadily progress on a major building expansion.

Technology teacher Lary Shoemaker recently brought his CNC students out to the work site to watch up-close as Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. workers laid bricks, operated machinery and examined blueprints. Shoemaker said he likes to expose students to work-in-progress that involves what students are learning in class.

“There’s so much application in the construction trades and hands-on work,” he said. “There’s a lot of math that goes into this, a lot of geometry.”

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. Superintendent Ryan Hoeh said it’s great for students to be able to see construction as it progresses

He told students: “If you’ve had any of my drafting classes, you are going to see how this goes from concept to finished product, and it all starts on paper.”

Watching Their School Grow

Students from math, science, art, drafting and other classes spent time outside watching work and considering the complexities of construction. Exact precision is a must.

“What’s really cool is that things they are doing in the classroom are all things someone else did in an office somewhere to get this project to this point,” said Assistant Principal Jeff Dykhouse. “For them to experience what a final product can look like and seeing that the skills they are learning here in the school can be beneficial and meaningful in the workforce, is really cool.”

The $40 million high school expansion, funded by the $68.5 million bond passed by voters in 2017, will be ready for students next fall. It will make room for the district’s burgeoning enrollment with space for more than 1,600 students. Interior renovations and will take place 2019-2020 school year, with the entire project done August 2020.

The entire expansion will add 18 regular classrooms (though six will be replaced), four science classrooms, a weight room, hallway, locker rooms, and an expanded cafeteria.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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