Students in an industrial technology class can read a textbook to learn about building, framing and electrical wiring.

But nothing compares to the experience they receive from actually using those skills.

A class centered around residential construction was added to Sam Gallion’s class list at Medora High School at the beginning of this school year. The culminating project is constructing a custom-built yard barn for a community member.

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After spending most of the school year learning about the process in class, the students been applying all of it the past several weeks, grabbing hammers, nails and boards to build the barn.

They have until the end of the school year to complete the barn and deliver it to Darrell Persinger.

Senior Mike Jones said it’s exciting to see the barn taking shape.

“I just like how we start from nowhere and end up with something for someone in the local community,” he said.

Jones is among seven students in Gallion’s seventh-period class working on the barn. He said he likes how everyone has played a part in the project.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Jones said.

This is Gallion’s first year of having a full teaching schedule at Medora. In his previous five years, he only spent part of the school day teaching a variety of technology education classes.

Adding the advanced construction class gives Gallion a full slate of six subjects.

“I enjoy the construction aspect of industrial technology the most, so that’s what I would like to promote the most,” he said. “I was pushing this class as much as I could to get my full schedule.”

The construction aspect is close to his heart because he spent five years as an independent contractor building log homes. And before he arrived at Medora, he spent 10 years teaching in Scottsburg.

“I think that this is an area that kids can become well versed in and get jobs at for employment as well as just general knowledge,” he said. “Everybody needs to know how to fix their own home some time in their life and be able to build whatever they need to.”

Once Gallion learned the class would be offered this school year, he spread the word in the community seeking someone in need of a yard barn. All they had to do was pay for the cost of the materials, and the students would construct the barn and deliver it.

Persinger was the first one to express interest, so Gallion said he was chosen as the beneficiary.

Persinger requested a 10-foot-by-14-foot barn that’s 10 feet tall. The structure will have painted CDX exterior plywood, a roof, electricity and lighting.

To be in the advanced construction class, students had to have taken architectural drafting and introduction to construction classes. In the introductory class, they learned the basics of framing, electricity, measurements and foundations.

“We basically go through the steps of what it takes to build a residential home,” Gallion said.

The culminating project was building a 2-foot wall out of 2-by-4s and wiring it with a switch receptacle and a lamp, which they got to take home at the end of the semester.

With the advanced class, the students spent the first half of the school year reading chapters in a textbook and watching movies about construction.

They then split into three groups — one working on a building sheet and figuring out supplies needed for the project, another drawing the floor plans and the other one making the contract.

“Everybody knows a little bit about everything, but when it comes down to doing it to get it done more quickly, we divided up into small groups so that kids all have something to do,” Gallion said.

In April, they began cutting and measuring boards in the classroom and working on the barn outside.

“I’m more of a facilitator,” Gallion said. “I make sure that they start doing it correctly, and then, I just kind of watch to make sure it’s done correctly. As far as the building, cutting and measuring, that’s all done by the students.”

Gallion said he has appreciated the students staying on task with the project.

“This is a really good group of kids,” he said. “Most of them are self-initiated go-getters. I tell them what to do, and they do it.”

Once the barn is built and delivered, Gallion said the students will feel a sense of satisfaction knowing they worked together to make it happen.

“In the construction field, you get self-satisfaction of being able to see quickly ‘This is what I accomplished today,'” he said. “The kids get the satisfaction to say, ‘We’ve built this. It’s got a floor and four walls.’ They only work a half-hour a day, so they are really understanding how everything goes together, but yet internally, they get to say, ‘You know what? I can see what I’m doing. I see the purpose of it,’ and they take self-pride.”

The project also is a good lesson in community service, Gallion said.

“Personally, I’m very open to community service and helping others whenever you can,” he said. “This is something that hopefully will stand for their lifetimes, and they can say 20 years from now when their children are school-aged, ‘Hey, this is what I built in school.'”

The only downfall for Gallion and students at Medora is this may be the final year of technology education at the school.

In April, Superintendent Roger Bane announced general fund budget cuts will occur unless enrollment increases by the start of the new school year in August.

The budget reduction plan includes cutting two programs — technology education and family and consumer science. Those were chosen because they aren’t requirements for an Indiana Academic Honors Diploma.

But having taught industrial arts for 16 years and working in the construction field, Gallion sees the benefits of technology education.

“I personally think that not everybody is college material, and we need to rely upon skills,” he said. “If you talk to anybody in any industry, they will always say, ‘We need skilled workers.’ College is not for everybody, and I always promote furthering your education. That’s why they are taking this class — they are learning. But not everybody needs to be sitting in a classroom reading a book. They are using other skills.”

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Medora Community School Corp. officials have scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. Monday in the school cafeteria to discuss potential general fund budget cuts.

That night, corporation leaders will explain the budget reduction plan that was outlined during the April school board meeting and answer the public’s questions.

Superintendent Roger Bane said during the April meeting that unless enrollment increases, the state’s second-smallest public school corporation will have to cut about $258,000 from its general fund budget for the 2016-17 school year. Currently, enrollment is about 230 in kindergarten through 12th grade.

In the past few years, Medora has lost about 40 students to neighboring school systems. The corporation receives about $6,000 per student, and that money goes into the general fund, which pays for employees’ salaries and benefits, day-to-day operations and maintenance.

Bane notified staff that cuts and changes will have to be made if enrollment doesn’t increase. If action isn’t taken now, Bane said, closing the school after next school year could occur.


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