By: Alec Anderson
The parking lot to the West side of the lobby has been a useful part of the school for many years. It experiences daily usage and extremely heavy traffic during special events that our school hosts. However, over the years, the parking lot has been reshaped to cause issues if it gets to be even remotely muddy. This develops the idea of why I decided to do this project. Even my grandfather mentioned how the slope can be slippery for people to walk down, especially when the lot was muddy. I looked into the proposition of renovating the lot, and found out that many people wanted something to be changed about the lot – including the school. So I decided to form a sidewalk and stairs across the East end of the lot to benefit everyone who uses the lot and increase safety for walking down to the street.
I knew going into this project that it wasn’t going to be cheap. Cement is expensive, and forming a sidewalk that stretches the length of the lot was going to add up. To fundraise for this project I sent out fundraising letters to people I know personally who use the lot on a daily basis, or who use the lot when they go to school events. I also asked Lorensen’s (the cement company) to donate a portion of the cement or however much they see fit. They were generous enough to donate half the cement needed to pour the sidewalk. This reduced the cost of the project dramatically. I was complimented on my project by multiple people in town who then insisted they donate and contribute to this project because it benefits the entire community. Lastly, my grandfather was generous enough to donate the remaining money necessary to pay off all the costs. It is because of the great people who make up this community that my project was able to get financed.
I also knew going into this project that I was not going to be able to do this alone. I did not have enough experience or skills to take on a project of this size on my own. Luckily, there were several people who I had the pleasure of working with throughout this project. I was able to constantly work with my parents to get this project moving and finalized. They helped me throughout the entire project and I couldn’t have completed it without their expertise in cement work. I was also able to work closely with Fred Hansen to make arrangements with the school to make sure everything was in place for me to go ahead and begin construction on the project. I was also assisted in helping pour the cement from my grandfather, Calvin and Dan (from Lorensen’s), and Marcus Hegy who contributed a huge amount of his time and work to help make the pouring process run smoothly.
Some of the biggest challenges I had to face was coming up with the necessary funds to pay for an expensive project like this, but thanks to the very generous donations from people around the community, I was able to successfully pay of this project fully. Time management was also a challenge for me given all the conflicts that interfered with the advancement of my project. It was mainly constructed on the weekends, but we were lucky enough to have the time available to pour the cement after school for a few days. From the initial construction, to watching it setup overnight, this project was a very time consuming project, and the management of it was the biggest challenge of all.
The success of this project was better than what I expected. During the construction of this project, we had numerous people stop in the cars and tell us what a great idea this was and how thankful they are that something is being done. Originally, I wasn’t sure how well the steps specifically would set up considering how tricky it is to form and pour steps. After the forms were torn off however, the result was amazing. I am thrilled of how well the sidewalk and steps turned out and I am even more excited to see people compliment and use my project for their benefit. It is during those moments that I know my project made a difference for the community. We plan to install handrails on both sides of the steps in a few months, but we have to let the cement set up for a while before we start drilling into the cement to install handrails. We don’t want to risk damaging it too soon. I was fortunate enough to discuss the variety and price of the handrails with Joe Brehmer. He has agreed to manufacture the rails fit to the custom measurements, and he has been generous enough to donate them to the project. My project was to construct the sidewalk and steps, but hopefully, once the school levels the house on the West side of the lot, I will be able to organize a plan to level out the lot, and possibly rock the entire area so it would be much better to use during rain. It would be nice to have white rock across the lot to add to the attractiveness, but it depends on the timing. It could also possibly be a project for a future student to work on for their community studio project as well.