All hands on deck

Karl Campbell’s Tracy Area High School construction class has been hard at work for weeks constructing the new picnic shelter at Central Park. Photos / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

The momentum surrounding a sort of renaissance at Central Park is being fostered by a group of energetic high school students.

Members of Karl Campbell’s construction class, which consists of 15 juniors and seniors, has been hard at work for weeks constructing a new picnic shelter to replace the outdated one that has served the community for decades.

The project has partnered the Tracy Area Public School District with the City of Tracy — the City is paying for materials, Campbell is providing most of the tools and equipment, and the kids, of course, are the labor.

“I think it is important that the city and school collaborate on many levels,” Campbell said. “Many of us can remember a time when that relationship was strained.  In a small community, it is important those two entities can work together, and this is one small example of that happening.”

The shelter is 20×40 with 9-foot high sidewalls, similar to the one at Sebastian Park. The construction serves a dual purpose: It replaces the old picnic shelter at a time when the City is moving forward with Central Park improvements, and it gets high school students some hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

“Most of the kids that sign up for this class want to be doing hands-on projects,” said Campbell. “Much of this class could be taught in a classroom, but that would be a lot less engaging for the kids. Having opportunities to get real time hands-on experience is huge. The kids in this class range from kids that have zero experience to kids that work construction.”

Campbell said he is thankful for the nice weather that has allowed the project to move forward at a steady pace — the students spent last week shingling. For him, working with the kids is a drastic change from his career as a licensed contractor.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.