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Evergreen students get some constructive advice from the Home Depot Foundation volunteers

Evergreen High School’s track and field team will soon get new equipment, built by students in the school’s Geometry in Construction program — with help of volunteers from the Home Depot Foundation.

About 35 students donned hard hats and safety goggles about 9 a.m. Thursday to construct squat wedges for weight training in the athletic department.

They put math skills to work, measuring materials before drilling the pieces together, all under the guidance of Home Depot volunteers. Students in the afternoon classes would build platforms for high jumpers to use in practice.

Thursday morning, freshman Juan Abundiz Piz and sophomore Domonick Good held a plank securely to a sawhorse while sophomore Rue Rollins used a circle saw to cut the board at the angle they needed.

The trio said they were all considering trade careers, — in construction, electrical or architecture.

Abundiz Piz said the class helps them get a taste of what they’re working toward.

Sophomore Emely Melgoza said she was inspired to join the class by her dad, who works in construction. She said she hopes to be able to use the skills she learns to help her family or community members with projects.

While the students were motivated by Home Depot volunteers and the potential for student athletes to use their work, Good joked, “I just hope it doesn’t break.”

While Home Depot volunteer Trillium Allison helped the group follow instructions, she said she was learning from the students.

“It’s cool to see them operate the tools,” Allison said. “I didn’t get to do stuff like this in high school.”

Thursday’s event was the first time Allison has volunteered with the Home Depot Foundation after two years of working at the east Vancouver store. She said that while it’s great experience for the students, it also provided helpful insight she can use to assist customers on a daily basis.

During her time at the hardware store, Allison said she’s learned how valuable trade jobs are and she hopes Evergreen students will be inspired to turn the skills they’ve gained into careers.

“We need workers and skilled tradesmen,” Allison said. “It’s the backbone of America.”

Geometry in Construction instructor Zack Burdick said Thursday’s event was a chance for students to learn from someone other than him.

“They get to see that the teachers aren’t just talking nonsense,” Burdick said. “They get to experience adults who are living this career and experience … how this type of class can impact them outside of school.”

Jeff Senn, operations manager of the 192nd Avenue Home Depot, praised the students he worked with. He said they appeared to be engaged and looked like they were having fun.

Although he’s been volunteering with the foundation for about 12 years, Senn said they don’t often get to go to schools.

Two of the students he worked with are on the track and field team, and they bonded over the ways they’d use the equipment they built, Senn said.

“I get personal reward out of seeing them succeed,” Senn said. “It’s awesome to watch their brains turn instructions on paper into a physical thing that they can use later. It’s rewarding for me to see kids and their relationships develop, right in front of my eyes, even though it’s only a half-an-hour project.”

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