Building Blitz: Instilling Civic Pride Through Construction

BY Bob Porto

Lawrence School

Project Description

This grant will be used to purchase materials for a “Building Blitz” that will instill a sense of civic pride and workmanship in our students. As our program has grown over the years, we have received an increased number of requests from such organizations as the 300 Committee, Falmouth Farmers’ Market, Bike Lab and the Chamber of Commerce for picnic tables, buddy benches and display kiosks to be built by our 8th graders. This has allowed students to use their woodworking skills for a greater purpose which serves the community. Over the past 2 years I have received requests for over 2 dozen items which will be visible to residents of the town for many years after students have moved on to high school. We continue to receive requests from schools and organizations, and I hope to change this from an annual event to one that occurs every trimester, resulting in three Blitzes each year. This will make the project accessible to all 8th grade students, as my class is run on a trimester basis. To accomplish this, I am requesting funding for dimensional lumber and hardware that will allow us to create a greater number of items for use in the schools and throughout the town. This will allow students the opportunity to use skills they have developed over the length of the course, and also apply provide practical application of math skills, build connections with organizations outside the school system, and finally, leave a lasting legacy that will instill a sense of pride as students see items throughout the town while being able to say to their peers, “I built that!”

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

This program will be evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively. In my first year running a fall Building Blitz, we received approximately one dozen requests for items including bike racks and display kiosks. The success of this program prompted other schools to contact us, requesting buddy benches for their playgrounds later in the year. As interest in our project has grown, requests continue to come in as new students complete the program and bring their own family connections to the project. This has shown the need and interest for such projects, and I plan to evaluate the success of the project by monitoring the number of requests that come in as the year continues. Further, student and staff input will be sought for construction opportunities as they suggest items for construction. These will be items that our school needs, and allow for immediate action on those requests. Finally, students will complete a qualitative evaluation of the Blitz at the conclusion of the event. We plan to continue to build upon past success while taking a step further in allowing the unit to grow throughout the year.

Benefit to the students and the school

There are several expected long-term benefits from this program. First, it encourages students to work cooperatively towards a goal that will be of benefit to the greater community. Each year, I present the list of requested items to each class period, allowing students to select a project that appeals to them. Further, knowing that their efforts will not only require functionality, but also craftsmanship allows students to take additional care and pride in their work. Students also become familiar with civic organizations around the town through this project, as I attempt to allow students to make deliveries to the organizations, if within walking distance, or to present them to a representative from the organization as a way of expanding their civic awareness beyond the classroom. Finally, several students have come back and shared the pride they have felt when bringing their family to a park that has a bench or display piece that they helped build, or when hearing from younger siblings that their elementary school has been using the picnic tables or music stands they constructed. With additional funding from this grant, we will be able to expand the program from one team of 95 students, to the entire grade level by running a Blitz each trimester, involving approximately 300 students.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

Materials will be ordered from Wood Lumber upon notification of receipt of the award.  Construction will begin as soon as materials arrive.  The materials used will be designed to be long lasting, to be used by students, visitors and residents for many years to come.