In the center of the Payson High School (PHS) campus sits a monument in cement to the students from the building trades class.
“We were approached by the principal to do this project,” said Chris Harold, the new building trades teacher. He stepped into the job retired building trades teacher Richard Alvarez vacated last year.
The cement “bridge” his class built spans a river of rock that cascades from the various drainage points at the school.
Harold said before the PHS maintenance department decided to install the drainage project, the water pooled in the middle of the patch of dirt and made an unsightly lake between the PHS office and auditorium.
“John Celaya has done a great job,” said Harold.
Two of the eight students who worked on the project answered questions about the challenges they faced putting in the professional cement project.
“Hardest part was getting it done before it settled,” said Logan Morgan.
In fact, Harold found six other students to help wrestle the cement into the beautiful final project.
Harold said cement becomes too dry to work within a scant hour after it has been poured.
Payson Concrete poured the cement at 9:30 in the morning and by 11:30, lines had been grooved and brush strokes laid down to give the four squares of cement a look as good as any contractor could do.
When asked how everything was done in perfect balance, Miriah Bacon replied, “A tape measure and pencil.”
The two students said Harold had them start the project by grading the dirt under the bridge, and then built a form to hold the poured cement.
As they talked, they bantered back and forth with Harold, who used to work at the Payson Education Center run by the Gila County superintendent’s office.
By 2 p.m. yellow caution tape surrounded the monument and Harold constantly had to keep students from leaving their initials or handprints on the pristine concrete.
“We can walk on it after 24 hours, but a few days would be better,” said Harold, but no one at the site believed anyone would wait that long to walk on the project. Students who complete four years of building trades classes leave high school with college credits .