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Holley High Schoolers Install Barn at Homesteads for Hope

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             On several clear days this May, middle and high school students from Holley’s Geometry in Construction class visited Homesteads for Hope located on Manitou Road in Spencerport to install a barn which they built specifically for this worthy nonprofit. They transported their “work in progress” to a predetermined spot on Homesteads for Hope (H4H) property and continued its construction on site. Now completed, this barn will house small animals.
             Holley math teacher, Russ Albright, and technology teacher, Tim Rogers, co-teach Geometry in Construction with students rotating between math days and building days each week. “The Geometry in Construction class is an outstanding opportunity for these kids to see how some of the geometric concepts that they learn are applied in real life situations,” said Albright, Mathematics Department Chair and NHS Advisor. “It makes me so proud when a student brings up mathematical terminology while doing a construction task.”
             Albright added that he often hears students say, “Oh, I get it now,” when they use the same mathematical concepts they learned in the classroom for the building project. There are 12 students in this year’s class, with the majority in 10th grade. The class helps students learn how math concepts can be applied to real-world problems to create solutions. Students combined their math and construction skills to build a 16’ x 20’ barn for H4H this year.
             In the fall, students went on a fieldtrip to the H4H farm so they could better understand how this organization operates and where the barn will be placed on the property. Housing animals like chickens and rabbits in the barn will provide new opportunities for young adults to care for the animals on the farm. The barn installation is part of the Phase I plan for H4H, a non-profit community farm that is all-inclusive and provides a place where young adults of all abilities can learn, work, live and grow.
             The barn features a gambrel roof, sliding barn doors, windows and a loft on the second floor. Students constructed stairs to the loft, designed to maximize floor space. Metal skin siding will be added to the barn once it is in place. Students planned for the project by working on a scale model of the barn. The barn was staged on a specially built platform at school before it was dismantled and transported to H4H to be installed permanently.
             The skills students learn in this class will be carried with them beyond high school to be used in future jobs or to make home repairs. “Students enjoy this class because they can see the real-world application of math,” said Rogers. “This helps increase their ‘buy in.’ Many students who don’t traditionally perform well in math class are performing much better in this class.” The scores from last year’s Regents Exam continue to show that Geometry in Construction students score better than traditional geometry students.
             While the class has two major goals—success on the construction project and success on the Geometry Regents—its community service aspect is important, as well.  “We always take a field trip at the beginning of the year to wherever we will be assembling the final project in order for the kids to be able to see where and who the project will be benefiting,” said Albright. “The kids come back excited to do the project because they know it will help others in need.” Rogers agrees, adding that helping others often gives these students a purpose for learning and for life.
             The students agree. “It is a great, hands-on experience that helps you give back to the community,” said sophomore David Farruggia. “I would definitely recommend it.” Senior Matthew Skehan, who was part of the first Geometry in Construction class three years ago, also feels the experience was positive. “It was a lot of fun, and the teachers were fantastic,” he recalled. “I would always struggle in math, but this class really helped me. The concepts were much clearer when we added a real-life aspect to it.”
             Skehan is now considering attending trade school for carpentry, which did not surprise technology teacher, Rogers. “Students who have been a part of the class during the past two years now seem to be very directional and have a genuine passion for life,” observed Rogers. “It seems to have connected with something inside of them, encouraging them to take control of their lives and find their role in society.”
             Albright and Rogers both have backgrounds which have been invaluable during these class projects. “Tim and I both have a tremendous amount of building experience,” Albright said. “Tim was a home builder for several years, and my father owns a contracting business with which I have worked for the past 40 years. We have a lot of experience to bring into the classroom and onto the job site.” With projects now including building one-man, homeless shelters and the H4H barn, it will be exciting to see what Holley’s Geometry in Construction students do next.
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