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Pinkerton Academy senior Stephanie Crepeau puts the finishing touches on a wheelchair ramp building students constructed for a Derry man. (Courtesy)

Constructive class work for Pinkerton students

DERRY - While most students were enjoying the first day of their winter vacation last week, a number of Pinkerton Academy's Building Construction Technology students were volunteering their time to install a wheelchair ramp for a Derry family.

The students were contacted earlier this winter by Kerry Durso, an independent living services coordinator from Concord, who asked whether the department could build a wheelchair ramp for a disabled man in Derry who had limited resources to pay for the modification, according to building sciences teacher David Howes.

Pinkerton senior Stephanie Crepeau took the lead in preparing the proposal for the project for Michael Gronlan.

An experienced building construction student, Crepeau said she has prepared a number of proposals, but she said she especially likes the chance to work on projects that help people in the community.

"I love doing this kind of community service and doing this kind of project where we give our time to install the ramp," she said.

Crepeau said the project was fairly straightforward, with the more senior students starting off the project and the younger students finishing up the decking, railings and the posts. The ramp was built on-site at the school and later installed at Gronlan's home.

The major challenge of the project was determining the pitch and making sure it wasn't too steep or too shallow, Crepeau said.

Although the students did donate their time for the project, Gronlan paid for the materials and was so happy with the completed project he gave the building department an extra $150 for tools and materials, Howes said.

The building construction department typically works on several community projects each year, Howes said.

The department is now working on a picnic-type table for the Derry Fire Department's kitchen.

Howes said the community projects bring an extra sense of fulfillment and real-world experience to the students that they might not get just working on projects in class.

As for Crepeau, she said she loves everything about building and construction, and plans on studying construction management in college next year.

Howes said he expects Crepeau will have no problem excelling in the construction industry.

"She has no problem telling the boys what to do," he said.


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