Barbara Harrison is among those raving about the campus beautification projects recently undertaken by Richard Alvarez and about 20 students in his Payson High School building trades class.
"They have been landscaping a rutted, granite hill between two buildings on campus" she said. "They have also added walkways to make it safer when coming down the hill and they fixed a drainage problem so it doesn't flood in the big rains."
According to Alvarez, the class took on the project at the request of students who considered the area to be an eyesore.
"We also did it because I was tired of looking at it," Alvarez said.
For the past 3 1/2 weeks, the shop class, which includes a trio of females, has worked in two-hour time blocks sprucing up the area.
The students poured concrete, graded the area, built stairways, put in drains, built a split-rail bench and designed and installed desert landscaping. The also did stone and brick work and operated bobcats, skip loaders and backhoes.
During the building project, the teens had to rely on one another to do their fair share of the labor and design.
The entire experience, Alvarez said, allowed the teens to learn construction and building skills in a hands-on, closeup way.
"It was very good for them and I think they learned a lot," Alvarez said.
Junior Shelton Keith agreed with the teacher's assessment.
"It was a fun way to learn," he said.
Alvarez expects the entire project to be completed next week.
"We are going to finish up some things, put an elk skeleton in there and name it Longhorn Alley," he said.
Why an elk skeleton?
"I don't know. The kids think it will be neat," Alvarez said.
For Harrison, the project is an example of students working cohesively to make the school campus a more attractive place to attend classes.
"It has turned an ugly chunk of land into something really nice," she said. "The kids have done some great work."