Seymour construction class projects helping students and the community

Students at Seymour High School are learning valuable skills and gaining early work experience volunteering their time to complete different projects all over Seymour through the school’s construction trades class.

Teacher Jerrell Hubbard has been able to secure various projects around the city for his students since the inception of the program, including renovations at the Jackson County Health Department, building a shed for a Seymour resident, pouring sidewalks at Seymour’s Gaiser Park, among others.

Currently, the class is working on a project for the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, which involves building a 16-by-24-foot shelter house at Westside Park at 920 Jackson St.

Each project is done without cost to the beneficiary, outside of materials required for completion. The benefit to the students of being able to build a résumé of completed projects outweighs the potential financial gain of charging for them, Hubbard said.

“It’s not about making money,” he said.

Instead of accepting payments, Hubbard requests donations for the course, which he is able to use to purchase tools and others things the students will need without any additional cost to the school district.

Thus far, Hubbard said the program has received around $10,000 in donations after completing its many projects. That includes a recent $600 donation from the Jackson County Commissioners for their work at the health department office. Donations allow the course to be self-sustaining while continuing to volunteer the services of the students.

“We don’t have any money going through the school system at all. All the material is bought through the person or whatever organization requests it,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard hopes to prepare his students for well-paying jobs right out of high school, providing them an alternative to the college path.

“So the opportunities for these kids in this field are open. They could go and get a job right out of high school,” he said. “They can start making $70,000 a year right out of high school.”

One of the students in the class, Cory Robinson, grew up with an interest in construction after helping family members with different projects, which led him to take the class at SHS.

“It has been and always will be a major part of my life,” Robinson said.

Though Robinson does not plan to pursue a career in the field, he enjoys the work he does in the class and plans to take the skills he has learned across different jobs throughout his life.

“I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of the class,” he said. “Getting to build stuff in your own community has a way of creating satisfaction. I know that when I pass by something that I built in 20 years, I will remember everything about the process.”

Another student, Eleanor Schrink, became interested in construction around eighth grade.

“I just thought it was cool,” she said. “I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to know how to build things on your own and know how to use different tools by yourself?’ and it would definitely save money in the future.”

Schrink enjoys the variety of work students have been allowed to do in the class and feels the different jobs have prepared her to take on different jobs in the future, should she choose to pursue a career in the construction.

“I’m not sure if I plan to continue in construction, but if I do, this class has definitely prepared me for some parts of different construction work, like masonry, concrete and commercial building,” she said.

Korey Estes, also a student in the class, said he has had an interest in construction for quite some time.

He enjoys being able to go out and contribute to projects that help the community and plans to take the skills he has learned doing so and apply them to a future in construction.

“Construction is most definitely the career path I plan on pursuing,” he said. “Construction (class) is definitely preparing us for what we will actually do in the construction field.”