New Castle News

November 30, 2012

Mohawk vo-ag classes apply skills outside classroom

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Mohawk’s vocational agriculture and masonry students got hands-on experience by helping with two district projects.

They assisted in constructing new baseball field dugouts. Vo-ag forestry students also helped design, plan and construct a landscaped area in front of the elementary.

The district requested the help of the classes to build home and visitors dugouts from concrete blocks and mortar, according to vo-ag teacher Cameron Schirmer.

Each student was assigned a specific job, such as mixing mortar, placing rebar and laying the block.

The home dugout, which took four days to build, included construction of a storage room with a door. The block work for the visitor dugout was completed in two days, Schirmer said.

Students selected to work on the project were: Donald Bailey, Sam Brown, Evan Daugherty, Jonathan Higbee, Hunter Kursel, Ryan Sager, Trent Whittaker, Jesse Ambrose, John Hartzell, Quinton Jonas, Thomas Lyons, Gio Menichino and Tylor Weingartner.

Students working on the landscape project were given a week to come up with a computer design. They then spent five days completing the layout, planting and spreading mulch.

They were: John Ashby, Ayla Chapman, Dalton Dilling, Angel Gubish, Ethan Hill, Boyd Laughner, Tyler Powers, Corbin Rohrmann, Mallorie Shiderly, Megan Shiderly, Lillian Swager, Josh Toscano, Breyona Wagner, Brett Ryan, Bryce Dolquist, Brandon Fox, Randy Pauline, Scott Relic, Robert Remler, Hanna Rohrmann, Hope Rohrmann, Ryan Sager, Sara Wallace, Sierra Custer and Nick Masella.

Superintendent Kathleen Kwolek explained the girls softball team had been practicing and playing at an off-site field and the board had been considering building a new field for several years.

Bids had ranged from $83,000 to $120,000, but Todd Exposito, buildings and grounds director, found sponsors to donate materials, equipment and labor. The project was completed for less than $21,000.

The students had learned how to lay block in the first two months of their building and masonry course, Kwolek said.

“They are currently building forms to pour concrete pads for the bleachers in the boys baseball, girls softball and soccer fields,” she said.

The students benefit by learning skills related to each project, including using laser levels and transits to measure elevations for field layouts and drainage requirements. They also learn to calculate costs of materials and do project specifications.

Kwolek pointed out the landscaping students have been designing, planting, budgeting and maintaining all district landscaping projects since 1992.

Because of its growing vocational-agriculture program, Mohawk recently saw the need for a second teacher, she said.

The board hired Schirmer, who has a Penn State degree in agricultural education.

Wallace, who heads the department, has been the vo-ag teacher and FFA adviser for more than 30 years.

Kwolek noted that renovations a few years ago to the vo-ag and technical education department included new infrastructure and equipment.

The district’s school board, administration and staff feel strongly about maintaining career and technical education experiences for its students, she said.

“We anticipate that in the next few years, the opportunities to find careers or additional training for students with strong background skills in these areas will expand tremendously.”

The vo-ag courses focus on project-based learning, including landscaping, forestry, metals and welding, animal science, building and masonry and small gasoline and multicylinder engines.

All those courses are open to any student.