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Wahoo High School industrial arts teacher Jon Herrera uses a length of wire to stitch together two pieces of chain link fence with the help of several of his students Monday morning at the home of Jim Taylor. Herrera and his students are repairing Taylor's old fence. (Chris Bristol, Fremont Tribune)

Wahoo Students Help Man with Fence, Yard Work

WHS Construction Class Seizes Community Service Opportunity

Sydney Hancock enjoys getting out of the classroom.

"I don't like being behind a desk for eight hours a day," said Hancock, a Wahoo High School sophomore.

That's one reason why she likes a recent project in Jon Herrera's construction class.

For the past two weeks, students in Herrera's class have been working to install some chain link fencing at Jim Taylor's yard at 1148 N. Birch St.

Wahoo High School students Kyle Melia and Zach White, not pictured, dump a load of brush onto a trailer at the home of Jim Taylor Monday morning in Wahoo. Several industrial arts students are helping to clean up the property and replace a chain link fence for Taylor. (Chris Bristol, Fremont Tribune)
Taylor, who has some health issues, has told the students that he really appreciates their hard work, said Herrera, the industrial technology teacher. And while students have been learning some basic skills, Herrera believes they're also getting some good lessons on community service.

The project began after Wahoo Middle School Principal Jason Libal learned that Taylor could use some assistance with his yard.

Taylor's wife, Maralee, was killed in a traffic accident on a foggy day in March and due to health issues, he has a difficult time getting around. His dog, Dixie, was getting out of his yard and a neighbor, Lorraine Syverson, was worried that the animal might get hit by a car or disappear, Libal said.

While Taylor's neighbors have chain-link fences, a portion of his yard doesn't. But recently materials were donated so fencing could be installed, thereby enclosing Taylor's yard.

Syverson then called Libal to see if students would be available to install the fence and he contacted Herrera, who liked the idea.

Branden Walling of Wahoo High School stretches out a length of chain link fence to be installed at the home of Jim Taylor Monday morning in Wahoo. Several industrial arts students are replacing Taylor's old fence which can be seen leaning in the background. (Chris Bristol, Fremont Tribune)

"I thought it was a good project, because I have a construction class that's two periods long," Herrera said.

Students liked the idea, too.

So Herrera and nine of his students went to the site. Once there, students decided they didn't just want to install the fencing, they wanted to help clear the yard of volunteer trees and clean it up. A tree had grown into a portion of an existing fence in Taylor's yard, so students had to determine how to get rid of the tree and repair the fence.

Senior Branden Walling said he believes one of the best parts about the project is that students have been able to use their own ideas on how to get the work done.

"I think it's more productive for us to be able to come up with a way to solve something," he said.

Herrera said students are putting in about 60 to 70 feet of new fencing from the back of Taylor's house to a neighbor's fence and will connect them. They're straightening other fencing. Walling said students have had to determine how many posts to use and the distance between them. Students had to dig holes and center posts in them.

"We centered the posts and put cement around them so they're secure in the ground," Herrera said.

Students work from 10 a.m. until noon. Paul and Brett Eddie of Eddie Lawn Services are helping to get the trees and brush hauled away, Libal said.

Rainy weather has slowed some of the students' progress, but the class was working on the project again early this week.

Students said they've enjoyed the project.

"I thought it was kind of cool that we got to get out of the shop and do something to help the community," said James Reilley, senior, adding that he helped cleanup crews clear brush after a tornado hit Ceresco two years ago.

Senior Hank Hrdlicka said he was about 8 years old when he started running errands for his dad, Henry, a maintenance man who does carpentry work.

What does Hrdlicka's dad think of the project?

"He told me that he's proud that we're doing something to help," Hank said.

Herrera has enjoyed the project as well.

"It's an opportunity for them to learn more than they would learn in a classroom," he said. "They're learning community service and skills associated with construction. It's a win-win situation."

And there's one more perk for students.

Herrera said Syverson has brought doughnuts to the students.

"That's really nice of her and the kids look forward to it," Herrera said, adding, "Who doesn't like doughnuts?"

Wahoo Students Help Man with Fence, Yard Work

Deb Widger

Apr 28, 2010

What a great project! We need more students & teachers with such creative & thoughtful ideas. Thank you students & Mr. Herrera!! - Deb