Glenwood High class builds partnerships, hands-on experience
This fall, returning students in the (co)studio design + build class are Bryce Gonzales, Tyler Stoll, Oscar Gallegos and Corey Erickson. Students making the leap from last year’s Introductory (co)studio class include Alex Frias, Sergio Flores, Linc Kleager and Gevin Wilson. New to the team and the whole (co)studio experience are Jose Diaz, Luke Sappington and Jakub Richards.
If you took wood shop in high school, chances are you came home with a cutting board or a coffee table. You probably didn’t get hands-on practice constructing a building from scratch, complete with roofing work and concrete.
That’s exactly what students in the advanced (co)studio design + build class at Glenwood Springs High School have spent their fall doing. The crew of around a dozen students are working hard to finish the exterior of a 197-square-foot concession stand at Stubler Memorial Stadium before the snow flies, with hopes it will see use in the spring.
It’s been a long process. Design began last fall when Matthew Miller began offering the design + build class through (co)studio, a local nonprofit formerly known as Houses for Higher Education. The walls were constructed inside, and groundbreaking took place in March 2014.
The program now hosts three introductory (co)studio classes that are focused on skill building and exposing students to design thinking; one double-block advanced class focused on finishing the concession stand and beginning the design and construction of another large-scale, community-oriented project; and one theater tech class. It differs from standard shop classes with its focus on design as well as construction, and takes advantage of numerous community partnerships.
“The Roaring Fork Valley is home to a breadth and depth of design and construction professionals with years of experience and expertise that are eager to engage with our high school students on a variety of levels,” explained program director Rachel Connor. “From the foundation to the roof, our community has made this happen for these kids and this high school.”
“We are 100 percent behind this type of educational experience for our valley’s students. We stand ready to help grow this program and it has been a pleasure to work with (co)studio and their students,” said Tom Joiner of TJ Concrete.
Seniors Tyler Stoll and Bryce Gonzales helped pour the concrete last week, and have been involved since last year. If the school will let them, they’ll probably come back to volunteer after they graduate.
“I’m gonna miss this,” Stoll said. “I’m definitely glad this class has change into what it has. You’re not just handed a sheet of paper and told to build something. You’re grades are based on participation, and everyone has a hand in it. We actually built something big that’s going to be here for a while and a lot of people are going to use.”
“This class is fun, but it also actually feels like it challenges my brain,” Gonzales agreed. “We met people we can eventually work for. They saw that, even as a teen, we can go out and build a building.”
“Most of us won’t actually go into construction, but it’s all stuff that you can use in life,” Stoll added. He credited instructor Miller with making the course what it is.
“He teaches you to do everything right the first time. There’s been no compromise on this building and I love it.”
Miller has five years teaching design and build courses, and works hard to encourage critical thinking, communication and creativity. He sees community involvement as the key to a successful program.
“The work wants to be out in the world. It doesn’t want to just exist in the vacuum of academia. The best way I’ve found of doing that is to work for the community,” he said. “There’s a lot of hands on deck. There are a lot of people who are going to take pride in this.”
“The project could not have been brought to fruition without the magnificent support of the community,” agreed GSHS principal Paul Freeman. “The construction of the Glenwood Springs High School concession stand demonstrates that it is possible to achieve highly ambitious goals when you have a visionary teacher, great kids and an organization such as (co)studio.”
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.