Students log time for building cabin
A log cabin playhouse to be auctioned this week is the product of Grace Community School eighth-graders.
More than 80 students spent a collective 30 hours working on the project, led by eighth-grade history teacher and soccer coach Tom Alden.
Alden said this is the eighth log cabin his classes have built in 19 years. In the past students built the cabins in the woods, but trees would fall on them and destroy them, Alden said.
Six years ago, he decided to have his students build a smaller, playhouse-sized cabin. It featured a swing, slide and loft inside and the school auctioned it to benefit The Grace Fund, which is the school's annual fund that provides needs-based financial aid and educational enhancements.
Alden decided to do the same thing this year. The work started about one month ago when, for extra credit, students met at a family's property to cut down pine trees.
Parents of the students hauled the wood back to campus on trailers, and the students let it dry out there for several weeks.
Last week, students worked shaving the bark off the logs, putting notches in the wood and building the walls. Alden expected them to finish today.
Grace Community School eighth-graders work on a log cabin playhouse Thursday as they prepare it for an auction this week. Pictured, from left, are Colton Rucker, Ronnie Baker, Jake Wright and Trent Miller. Eighth-grade history teacher and soccer coach Tom Alden carries the log in the background.
The structure measures 12 feet long by 8 feet wide. The side walls stretch more than 5 feet high and the roof reaches 8 feet at its center. A wood floor forms the base.
It will feature a swing, slide and loft like the last one. The students also planned to paint the door and window frame black and the floor royal blue. The window likely will feature a swinging shutter with a cross cut in the middle.
Alden said he has used the Internet and the expertise of some of the students' parents to get instructions and materials for building the cabin.
Although the adults used modern equipment such as chain saws for the project, one student's dad brought two antique hand drills to show how people used to drill holes before power tools.
Alden said he hopes the experience leaves students with lasting memories and that they feel a sense of accomplishment for what they've done.
Alden said although the students haven't studied the pioneer age yet in class, they still can learn from the experience.
It has some historical value in that students can see people have not always lived in as "perfect" or comfortable a dwelling people have today, he said.
Eighth-grader Sydney Molina, 13, said she did several jobs including setting up the base and shaving the logs.
She said through this experience the students have learned to work together to accomplish something good for their school.
Eighth-grader Caleb Pierce, 13, said he most enjoyed shaving the wood, although he also nailed logs together.
"It feels good just to know that you've done all this," he said, "just knowing that you're all working together building a nice thing you can sell to help out the school."