Getting hands-on experience, Penn College students build and plant garden for WAHS
Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Dr. Michael Dincher and his landscape construction class built a legacy garden with a view for the Williamsport Area High School.
The school district sold personalized bricks to community members to raise money for the education foundation’s Return to Glory campaign, which launched in 2013 with the goal of raising $2.7 million by 2018. The bricks raised about $24,000.
The legacy garden was filled with some of the 240 commemorative bricks that had been bought and surrounded by fresh landscaping in a formerly empty space with a view of the stadium and the rolling hills and sky beyond it. The project began in February and was completed Friday.
“People who want to celebrate the district, pay tribute to loved ones or just put their legacy in the garden” bought those bricks, said Greg Hayes, director of the education foundation and public relations for the district.
The bricks will be illuminated at night, allowing patrons of football games and other events to see. Hayes added that the location was chosen in
part because of the view, which gives guests what he believes is a great photographic location for events such as graduation.
The Penn College students got real-life experience out of the project, handling everything from designing the garden and bidding for materials to laying bricks and stone, planting and mulching. The students, along with Dincher, worked nearly every Friday since the project’s beginning to complete the garden.
Once the students planned the layout of the brick garden, its encompassing stone wall and the accentuating landscape, they set to work cutting trees, clearing the area and laying materials.
“We were up here in the snow trying to dig in the frozen ground,” Dincher laughed.
But it’s worthwhile, he said. Every year, he incorporates a community project into the class. Last year, Dincher’s students helped with landscaping around the Montgomery Athletic Complex, he said. The brick garden in particular gave his students hands-on experience with many class topics such as brick-laying, retainer walls, planting and more.
“This is what we need,” Dincher said. “It has every element that we teach.”
Pete Mitchell, a senior at the college who started his own landscaping business while in high school, said he enjoys projects like the brick garden.
“You get to see everything, from start to finish,” he said.
He and classmate Caleb Barnhart agree that finding the right materials is a must. The materials and colors have to look good together and, in this case, they do, the students said.
Barnhart, a non-degree student, owns a lawn care business and is participating in the landscape program with the hopes of expanding that business, he said. Projects like this only make him want to work harder toward his goal of getting into landscape, he said.
Senior Robbie Burger noted the time his class put into the project, saying plenty of non-class time was spent working on the garden. But it’s worth it to him.
“Seeing it all come together, I’m really proud to put my name on it — that I helped with this,” Burger said.