Hammering Out the Details: JHS Construction Class Builds Baseball Team Lockers

Creating an authentic learning experience for students of all ages drives a variety of projects within the Johnston Community School District.

JHS Industrial Technology teacher Rhys South (center) consults with two students on the baseball locker project.

JHS Industrial Technology teacher Rhys South (center) consults with two students on the baseball locker project.

This year, students in Rhys South’s construction technology class were asked to construct wood lockers and storage shelves for use at the new Johnston baseball complex. It’s a real-world project that builds skills in collaboration, critical thinking, productivity, communication, and much more.

As part of the facilities for the baseball team, an existing building was renovated to accommodate the team for their gear, a space to have meetings and watch video, and get ready for games. Parents in the baseball club suggested purchasing team lockers, but those came with a hefty price tag. Fast forward through some brainstorming sessions and head coach Michael Barta looked no further than his own teaching colleague for a cost-effective solution.

Barta reached out to South with the idea to create locker spaces for the student athletes. Together, they established a design, cost per unit, and the materials that would be used. The Johnston baseball club purchased the materials, far lowering the cost of the lockers.

During the first semester, a group of eight students in the construction technology class have been building the lockers. South said over the course of the fall, these students have learned how to use power tools, select quality materials, measure materials, read plans, and plan the scope of projects. The construction technology class is one of the courses students can take to earn credits at DMACC, in addition to high school credits.

JHS junior Riley Clark is a member of the Johnston baseball team and part of the small group in the construction technology class who’ve been working on the lockers. He said this project in particular puts a completely new meaning behind having pride in one’s work.

JHS junior Riley Clark tightens the clamps on a piece of wood after gluing it.

JHS junior Riley Clark tightens the clamps on a piece of wood after gluing it.

“As a member of the baseball team, I want them to look nice and work well for my teammates,” Clark said. “It’s pretty cool to be building something now that will be used by teams for years to come.”

The construction technology students work in small teams or as individuals on a specific task. Senior Brandon Berger’s job is to measure, cut, and prepare all the shelves for each locker. He said this large project in particular forces everyone to communicate and depend upon one another to keep the work flowing.

“Everyone has to do their part,” Berger said. “I think it’d be similar to real job, where you’re on a time schedule, you have a customer, and you need to build a great product while keeping in mind the materials you’re working with and the budget.”

The new baseball and softball complex was approved in early 2018 and construction on the renovated fields, dugouts, and team areas began after the 2017-18 season ended. Barta explained that the collaboration between the construction technology classes and the baseball team seemed like a natural fit, while also saving money.

JHS student cuts wood in the wood shop

JHS senior Brandon Berger said he’s enjoyed the real-world aspect of this class project.

“This worked out really well and I’ve been amazed at the quality of work from the students in Mr. South’s class,” said Barta. “There should be about 30 lockers as a result of the project, which is a great start. They are moveable and will make the team space feel like the real deal.”

During the second semester, a much larger group of students – around 60 – will take over production of the lockers, working on assembly and finishing touches.

“The first semester students established the planning and order of operations to keep the project moving forward smoothly,” South said. “Now in the second semester, we’ll need more students to finish up the project. It’s worked out well and given the students a lot of opportunity to see how their skills can be used in the real world.”

The baseball and softball complex project is scheduled to be completed in the early summer of 2019.