Students in the Grade 11 construction class at Elmira District Secondary School have been receiving training in practical skills while also helping to make their community a little more welcoming.
The school has partnered with the Elmira Business Improvement Area (BIA) to revitalize the benches located in the downtown core.
“What we noticed was that downtown Elmira was really lacking colour. What we wanted to do was add some colour downtown, but at the same time revitalize those benches that were very worn down – there was virtually no stain left on them. The metal parts of them were full black, and just kind of bland,” said BIA board member Dana Costello.
“So what we thought to do was partner with the Elmira high school woodworking department and give them a donation, and they would be able to take those benches and totally refinish them into something beautiful again,” Costello said.
Student Claire Jacklin explained the process that went into the project.
“We had to take apart all the benches, take all the wood off and then we had to sand the wood and sand in the middle of the benches to get all the stain and paint off. And we basically just bought new bolts and screws and everything and we repainted it all, re-stained it all and put it back together,” she said.
“It was a long process but most of the stuff was just pretty simple to do,” Jacklin added.
Teacher Alex Derma said it’s a good way for students to give back to their community.
“I like it personally because they get to be involved in their community that they’re growing up in. These guys are going to see it when they’re walking by, going ‘hey, we did those benches,’” he said.
Costello agreed with that sentiment.
“If they’re taking a woodworking class, there’s only so much that you can learn in the confines of a classroom. They can come out of this project feeling accomplished and feeling that they’ve also made an impact in their own community that they’re part of,” she said.
While the benches are just one part of the downtown, the small details add over time, Costello added.
“We want the community to be able to visit food establishments, or any kind of stores for that matter, and go and enjoy what they purchased outside on the street,” she said
“It will be nice going out for lunch and seeing the benches that we did,” Jacklin said.
All of the products for the project were donated by the downtown Home Hardware store.