The Alfred State College SkillsUSA chapter received a $10,000 grant from Lowe’s and SkillsUSA in March 2007. The Alfred SkillsUSA team wanted to make a significant difference in its college community through both the leadership opportunity and financial gift that they had been awarded.
The project the students chose began as a dream of the local Wellsville Parent Teacher Association (PTA) which determined that the Wellsville Central School elementary playground was in dire need of an upgrade. The grounds, especially in the spring and fall seasons, were constantly subject to flooding due to a lack of drainage.
The SkillsUSA team began its work by removing approximately 300 cubic yards of topsoil and base and installing over 200 feet of 4” drainage lines, and spreading 160 tons of rock across the entire playground to rectify the drainage problem. Replacement of the topsoil in conjunction with a final grade maximized water control and the leveling of the grounds, thereby maximizing its use for outdoor education and recreation. The installation of this system has been described by the PTA as “the necessity that no one wanted to do because it lacked visual impact and required a costly investment.”
The Alfred State College SkillsUSA Team has clearly shown an ability to illustrate its skill level in the trades. Additionally, the school district has begun plans to repair the other grounds at the school through applying proper drainage techniques. These Alfred SkillsUSA students have set the bar just a bit higher.
The SkillsUSA team also removed, rebuilt, and repainted the 10-child swing set from the center of the grounds, and in the spring will reset it in a new location on the playground. This change, which provided a redesign of the playground equipment, has also provided an 8,000-square-foot green space that is safer for the students, level, properly drained, and ready for educational and recreational pursuits. The Alfred team also built and installed enough benches and picnic tables for parents to use when they visit the grounds and for teachers to seat entire classes for activities when the weather permits. An existing playground area was cleared of weeds and leveled and will be treated in the spring with a stain and seal, also greatly improving its appearance and safety for the children.
The leadership example of SkillsUSA, Lowe’s, and Alfred State College has provided a catalyst for the community to join in. An additional $8,000 in donations has been received since the beginning of the project. Once the local businesses and organizations learned of the project, they all were happy to help. This opportunity has allowed the students of Alfred State College and Wellsville Central School to experience first-hand what can be accomplished when a group of skilled and focused individuals seek out the opportunity, the means, and the power to make a difference in the community in which they live.
The project has been host to a multitude of volunteers outside of the SkillsUSA chapter including: faculty and staff from the college, organizations from the Alfred and Wellsville communities (the Alpha Beta Chi sorority, Wellsville PTA), and the Wellsville school district itself has enjoyed the efforts of faculty, parents, administration, and students who all lent a hand.
Leadership, focus, commitment, challenge, perseverance, satisfaction, opportunity, and rewarding were all words mentioned by the team members, as well as others, who have been involved. However, words fall short in describing the learning experience that this grant has offered to the Alfred State College and Wellsville Elementary School students. This year, the membership for the fall semester in SkillsUSA is at an all-time high. The students are more active and self-reliant, and they are participating in a multitude of other outside activities such as hosting blood drives, initiating fund raisers, participating in campaign bell ringing, and more. This project has served as the catalyst to teach them that they can make a difference in their own lives and of those around them.
Pictured here, several Wellsville Central School elementary students enjoy the signage as well as the playground.