The Patio Project

In January, I was speaking to a student who would be in my semester two College 12 Math class. I asked him if he was ready for me to teach him. He responded, “Sir, if your class is physical, it will be just fine.”  That student didn’t know it, but he was the initiator of our class project. The course objectives for the class included budgeting, optimization of area and volume, measurement, geometry, and unit conversions.  And for many years I had desired to create a space for students behind the school.  Creating this space for students would provide the opportunity for applying the course outcomes in an authentic way.  Thus was born, The Patio Project.

The Vision
I shared the vision with students, my colleagues, parents, and community members. Everyone was on board with the idea, but could it become reality?  One parent in particular, John Alblas of J. Williams Landscaping, was excited about the opportunity to create a communal space for students, and was eager to work with my class to see the project through.  The vision was starting to take shape.

Students started by measuring the available space and then creating scale drawings of their vision for the area. The class then collaborated with each other to develop a final plan. This plan was shared with Mr. Siebenga, our property manager, Fred Eisinga, and ultimately the Board of Directors. The class was provided with financial support and encouragement from the school to move forward.  The students then worked with John Alblas to finalize their plans, and to order materials.

On Monday, May 26th, following excavation and the bringing in of gravel, students got down to work. They leveled the ground, calculated the grade for run-off, built a central planter and seating area, put the base sand layer down, and then placed three thousand patio stones.  Connon Nurseries provided trees and shrubs for some finishing touches.  Eight days later, my class had completed a student space that will be used by HDCH for many years to come.

As a teacher, I was excited to see the students use their knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.  The engagement of my class in this project was incredibly encouraging, and I am thankful for how students gave significant time to this project, both during class and outside of class, to make it happen.

Initially students balked at the project, for as Grade 12 graduates, they recognized that they would have little opportunity to use the patio. Over time however, the students recognized that the space was not about them.

The space was an opportunity to give to others and to glorify God by using their gifts. In the end, the students were very proud of their work, and very proud to leave a legacy behind as they move on to new adventures. It was an incredible learning experience! I was privileged to be a part of what these students accomplished.

OWebbOwen Webb
Math Teacher