POSTED 7/8/2013Students craft benches from reclaimed gymnasium bleachers
As work crews remodel the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville High School gymnasium this summer, plans are being made to use the old bleachers to raise funds for the district’s technology program.
The old gym will receive approximately $275,000 worth of renovations this summer including a new floor and modern composite bleachers.
This fall four-foot-long benches constructed by high school students from the old bleacher boards will be available for purchase.
When retiring St. Johnsville technology teacher Mr. David Talaba heard the old bleachers were going to be scrapped, he came up with a better idea. Near the end of the year, Talaba set his technology students to work designing and making prototypes of benches that could be sold to area residents. The students came up with a design that’s simple to mass produce in the school’s shop and stylish and functional for people’s homes and businesses.
“A lot of the equipment we have in the school shop was here 30 years ago when I started. We can revitalize the shop with new equipment with the money raised by the benches,” Talaba said.
After 30 years teaching in St. Johnsville, Talaba retired at the end of the school year. A Little Falls native, Talaba began his teaching career in Ilion, where he worked for two years before coming to St. Johnsville.
Talaba credits past administrators and boards of education in St. Johnsville for maintaining a strong, hands-on technology program throughout the years.
“During the last 20 years a lot of districts have gutted their technology programs because they’re not required by the state for high school students and money was tight. It’s unfortunate because these technology programs offer hands-on learning and teach important problem solving and life skills,” Talaba said. “The students of Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville will have a strong technology program to take advantage of, and I hope those opportunities continue to be available for years to come.”
The gym renovation project is part of a $1.5 million bond referendum approved by St. Johnsville voters in 2011. Much of the cost of the project will be reimbursed to the district through state building aid.
The gym is expected to be ready by late summer, in time for the start of school for the new OESJ High School.
Top: Students Brian LeRoy and Chris Fisher screw together a bench made from reclaimed gymnasium bleachers. Mr. Talaba and student Austin Todd look on.
Middle: Student Kevin Blair sands a bench.
Bottom: OESJ Superintendent Laura Lawrence and Agriculture teacher Mr. Chris Smith present Mr. Talaba with a bench signed by students. After 32 years teaching, Mr. Talaba retired at the end of the school year.