Ramps for the elderly, picnic tables for a group home, field repair for parks and recreation and a platform for the drama department, are just some of the contributions by Franklin County High School’s building trades students that have served the community.

Building trades instructor Bruce Broadstreet said, “Many of the jobs we do fall into the realm of community service. It is important that students experience helping people who can’t help themselves and who don’t have family to lend a hand.”

FCHS Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Robbie Dooley added, “We want to be an integral part of the community.”

Quality workmanship is another value Broadstreet imparts to his students.

“We do the things as if we were building it for ourselves and I tell them, ‘If you’re happy with it, the customer will be happy with it,’” he said.

He added he also reminds students “There’s a thousand eyes on everything you do.”

One of the most-viewed projects his classes completed is the LOVE sign which currently resides in front of the Gereau Center. Rocky Mount’s Community Partnership wanted to have something special for the community which could initially be showcased at the Farmer’s Market for “Come Home for a Franklin County Christmas” held on the first Friday evening in December.

Zack Brooks, Recreation Specialist for Franklin County’s Parks and Recreation Department, assisted Community Partnership by becoming the project manager for the nearly 2,000 pound sign. Brooks showed Broadstreet a picture and asked if his building trades classes could complete the project within two weeks.

“Anytime we can completely engineer a project from beginning to end, we jump on it,” Broadstreet said. “Every year [trades classes] do something we’ve never done. [Students] are always up for a challenge.”

With Parks and Rec securing the materials and the students providing the labor, Project LOVE was completed in less than two weeks.

Brooks was delighted with the finished product. The students were delighted with the sense of satisfaction and pride they received from giving their community a product crafted with quality workmanship and of course, love.

Project LOVE was not the first time the high school students have worked with Parks and Rec to better the community. Two years ago students from building trades, masonry, electricity and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) classes provided service by extensively renovating LARC Baseball Field.

Helping the elderly is another service avenue for the students, whether it be a ramp or even repairing a cane.

“Just to be able to help someone with no expectation of monetary reward is good for the soul,” Broadstreet said.

The Franklin County Public Schools system has also been a beneficiary of the students’ efforts. Some of the classes’ projects have included a large platform for the high school’s drama department and helping the science and forensics classes at New Tech at Gereau with a giant table displaying the periodic table of elements as well as stands used for a science carnival for fifth-graders.

“These jobs — off and on campus that we take on — are icing on the cake,” Broadstreet said. “These jobs are twofold. They not only give the teachers credibility in what we expose the students to in class, but students are also able to use the skills that they have mastered to see firsthand the construction process.

“As Career and Technical Education teachers we teach academic and technical skills so that students will have the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation upon graduation.”

Broadstreet said potential employers have noticed what’s going on at the high school because he gets calls from employers seeking skilled workers.

This semester’s advanced building trades class has 15 students, all of whom are seniors.

Robert Workman says what he likes best about the class is the hands on experience and he doesn’t have to be sitting at a desk. He’s undecided about his career path as his mother’s side comes from an auto mechanics background and his father’s side is into building.

Dustin Lynch has done roofing, siding and flooring. He took the class because he wanted to learn more.

Dawsyn Layman has worked summers in construction. He took the class to relearn some things he’d forgotten. Broadstreet said that Layman has been a big help with his first year students adding his experience has been “invaluable.”

Besides community service opportunities, Broadstreet’s students complete an end of the semester project. Such projects have included lamps, tables, coat racks and chicken coops. He said one student made a jewelry box for his foster mom. For materials, the students use shop scraps or bring in their own supplies.

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