JERSEY SHORE - Looking for a project to take on, Jersey Shore Area High School students cleaned up the "jungle" that was the school's courtyard.
Students from the newly created Building and Maintenance class, along with those from art, manufacturing and CAD classes, performed a complete renovation on the courtyard that was overgrown and being used as storage space.
"I think they got to see how to work together as a team," said Heath Rager, building and maintenance teacher. "And (students saw) how their work is appreciated by other people and the school."
Jersey Shore Area High School students are shown with a mural they created for the school’s courtyard.
Rager explained that he was looking for projects over the summer for his class to do, when the school's maintenance workers told him about the courtyard. The project would give his students the experience he wanted and also help the school, which is what he wanted.
"It teaches them skills that they're going to need after they get out of high school," Rager said.
But students were surprised at the task they were given.
"A lot of kids were surprised (at the state of the courtyard)," senior Dan Wrench said. "It was basically let go."
Rager recalled that weeds in the courtyard were about 6 feet tall when the group started, but soon were removed.
The students in the class also power washed the cement benches and did a full landscaping project.
In order to have as many students involved in the project as possible, students from the other three classes created two murals that were hung in the courtyard.
Senior William Winter said the project helped him to "understand the value of work in the school." And although it was difficult, he enjoyed it.
"It was hard at first, but you got used to it," he said.
Rager agreed that keeping the students motivated during the life of the project was difficult.
"They always want to do it to start with," Rager said, "but after a week, they're tired of it. That's part of the job."
There were lessons to be learned before even getting started, Rager said, as some needed instruction on the use of a wheelbarrow. But for the students, they said they just kept working until the project was done.
"You go from one thing to the next," said Kurtis Welch.
For the artwork, students said there were many ideas but had to decided which two would be chosen. Students added that it was "awesome" to have their artwork on display.
"They wanted something that would appeal to everyone," said Bobbie Dwyer, art teacher.
Both teachers believe that the project will allow students involved to take ownership of the school.
"They get to take ownership. It makes it their school," Rager said.
"People are going to want to go out there and take care of it," Dwyer added.
Rager said he's heard that once the weather turns for the better, students will be allowed in the courtyard for lunch and to study.