TONTOGANY – The sawdust has cleared, and the Village of Weston is getting benches made by students from the Otsego community.
Members of Ric Roach’s shop class at Otsego High School made six benches to be placed in the village’s green space on Main Street in time for next year’s farmers markets.
“We noticed there were a few gazebos there but some of the elderly would come and they needed a place to sit,” said Shelly Myerholtz, a member of the Weston Area Business Council.
When Superintendent Kevin O’Shea attended a meetings, the council asked him if the shop class could build some benches, she said.
The village supplied the wood, and the students supplied the manpower.
“I think it’s fabulous these kids have done this,” Myerholtz said.
Roach, who is in his first year as an industrial technology teacher, said 12 students made six benches. It took a couple weeks to make each bench.
“We came up with a plan and told them we’re going to make a couple extra,” he said.
Roach said his students had to learn to measure and cut properly, and then assemble the benches.
They had to work with a partner, which helped their communication skills, he said.
Senior Logan Periat said he learned how to apply geometry in the real world, and how to work as a team.
“I always like helping out. I think it’s good,” said Periat, who lives in Weston.
He said he was proud to put his name on his bench.
Students carved their names into the benches they made as well as “Donated by Otsego HS Students.”
Cohen Leiter said he isn’t very good at shop but “it worked out in the long run.”
The junior from Grand Rapids is in his third year in shop class.
“Our community does so much for our (school district) it’s the least we can do to give back a little bit,” Leiter said.
Noah Leonard said he was excited about the idea of making the benches — until he saw he and his partner got the difficult benches with the arm rests.
“I was a little nervous at first because they took longer to build … but we got it done,” Leonard said.
He said he learned how to work with a partner better and get things done in a timely manner.
“It feels good to give to the community,”said Leonard, who is a junior from Grand Rapids.
O’Shea said classes have done other projects for the ballparks in the Otsego community, but this is something he really wants to focus on.
“When there’s a need and we can fit it into our curriculum, and really dive into some project-based learning, that’s really important to us,” O’Shea said.
“We want to be connected to the community,” he said. “It’s meaningful to the kids. They’re more invested. They find more meaning in their projects and that’s what we’re trying to do.”