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Northeast Times | October 19, 2021

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Liberty Elementary School students now have a new space for imaginative play, courtesy of the construction students at the Keller Center for Advanced Learning

Liberty Elementary School students now have a new space for imaginative play, courtesy of the construction students at the Keller Center for Advanced Learning

Liberty Elementary took a few teachers on a tour of KCAL a year ago to see how their campus could support and integrate the programs KCAL has to offer, even at the elementary level. They happened to tour Construction Management Teacher Harold Johnson’s shop and saw the impressive collections and handyworks his students were making. LES Counselor Christina Jones asked him if he ever commissioned school projects.

“Lucky for us… they sure do!” she said.

Johnson assigned the build to the Construction students and they were responsible for producing prototypes of what they thought would be the best way to build the stage, along with the lumber and materials needed, and with a budget and schedule for construction. The students submitted several designs, and once the project was approved, they ordered materials for construction. The biggest obstacle for the students was that the stage was eight feet wide at the narrowest point and 16-feet at the widest point, but there was a six-foot door they would have to move it through. The students decided to build the stage in four sections to get it through the door and transport it easily.

The stage was built out of treated lumber to resist rotting, and the students used bolts and screws to ensure it will last for many years. Although it had its challenging moments, the students had a great time building the stage.

“When it was completed, we all felt that we had accomplished a project that Liberty Elementary would be proud to use for outdoor activities,” Johnson said. “It was a great success!”

Jones said she has a vision for the stage to encourage more imagination inducing sensory integration and pretend play building for students at Liberty.

“The stage is really phase-one of what I hope to be many more structures and playscapes for our 5-to-10-year-olds,” Jones said. “We know that good ole’ fashioned play builds confidence, problem-solving, deductive thinking skills, and communication tools – all of which directly support academic learning.

“The stage has been a huge hit! While recess is filled with dramatic representations, songs, dances, and even a new space for tag or hide-and-go-seek, the stage is also used for academic learning. Teachers are able to use this space for readers’ theater and science project demos. As an added bonus, a local Eagle Scout added bench seating for us this summer! We love it so much, and are so grateful for the community and District partnerships.”