These high school students aren’t on a field trip to the Lloyd Center — they’re constructing every part of the new welcome center from the ground up and meeting tough environmental standards along the way.
Carpentry teacher Frank Goncalves explained Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School officials choose projects supporting the communities the school serves — New Bedford, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven — and the students. These projects allow them to learn by doing and give back at the same time. “The whole school gets involved whenever possible,” Goncalves said.
In addition to students in the carpentry program, those in the plumbing and electricity programs will work on the building, and media program students have done stories on the project. Those studying architecture are helping, too.
Construction on the building began last fall, and with the exception of the foundation, has been done exclusively by students. “I think our students benefit greatly by working on outside projects,” Goncalves said. Those working on the site on September 20 were all juniors. Because they split their time between traditional academics, work in their shops at school, and work in the community, this was their first day at the Lloyd Center.
They learned safety protocols necessary when working on a construction site and using some new tools. Instruction covered everything from safely operating a nail gun to the correct way to put up and take down a ladder, and make sure it is at a safe angle from the building.
Once they learn the ropes, they’ll start using all the knowledge gained over their past two years studying carpentry, and learn new things, too.
“I’ve been talking to my dad about this since last year,” student Deaveon Gomes said. She said that she’s most excited about seeing the final product of her work. She has visited the Lloyd Center on field trips in middle school, which makes this project more meaningful.
“I think it’s a good experience because you know how to build things,” Isaiah Dudley, another student, said. “If something breaks in your house, you know how to fix it.”
They were eager to get working, and anticipate making this kind of work a career in the future. Deaveon Gomes was especially excited about putting the metal roof on the building, and said she was thinking about working for a family member’s roofing business after she graduates.
Although the group hadn’t started working yet, one student had already made huge strides.
Alex Perez came to the site scared of heights, and was reluctant to scale the ladders necessary for the job. That morning, with the encouragement of his classmates and teacher, he bravely climbed about ten feet off the ground. Later, with new confidence, he climbed almost twenty feet, practically all the way to the roof. His classmates cheered him on as he reached heights that just hours earlier had seemed unthinkable.
The students from GNBRVTHS have completed a number of projects in Dartmouth, including rebuilding the Bucket ice cream stand, several projects at the Council on Aging, and work on the Sol-E-Mar apartment complex.
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