Northern Westmoreland students lay their foundation with Kiski Area project

| Sunday, May 11, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

Northern Westmoreland Career and Technology students are building dugouts at Kiski Area High School's baseball and softball fields that were designed by some of its students.

The vocational-technical school students began laying foundations for the four dugouts last month after the Kiski Area engineering design students' plans were approved by Westmoreland County.

Each engineering design student, according to teacher Jim Garris, contributed something to the group's design that made it into the final plans.

“It's great for the kids anytime you can integrate real-world application into their work and they're all a part of it,” Garris said. “I think a lot of times they feel like they're just jumping through hoops, but this is something they can be proud of when they see a tangible final product.”

The project is a win-win for the district, according to school board President Keith Blayden, because the students get “valuable real-world experience,” while the district saves on labor costs.

The district is paying only for the construction materials, he said, which are covered by a fund that was set up several years ago when the board added a $1 surcharge on tickets to athletic events.

“It, in essence, really isn't costing the district anything,” Blayden said. “It's great for the students, too, because it gives them a way to leave their legacy here when it's all said and done.”

Career and technology student Jerico Morgan, 17, of Avonmore, said the dugouts' construction was held up by April rain. He expects the masonry and carpentry students working on the project to erect the dugouts before the end of the school year.

“Right now we're laying the foundation with 10-inch block,” Morgan said. “Soon, we'll be laying the 8-inch block, and it's going to start coming together.”

Each of the dugouts, which Garris spent two months designing with his class, will be 35 feet by 10 feet, including a 10-by-10 equipment storage area. The home dugouts, situated on the baseball first baseline and softball third baseline, will feature a 10-foot, second story extension where a public announcement system might later be added, Garris said.

The home dugouts also will feature the Kiski Area Cavaliers logo.

“We wanted to have our district's identity on the final product,” said Garris, who plans to add to both sites with classes.

Next school year, he said, his students might design new restrooms and concession stands for each of the fields.

It would be a significant improvement, according to Principal Chad Roland, considering the high school this year was one of the few in the Alle-Kiski Valley without dugouts at their baseball fields.

“There was a definite need for it,” he said. “It's teaching the kids great things like time management and how to work toward a client's demands. But they're also going to benefit from it themselves, too, which is nice.”

Luke Satterfield, a Kiski Area sophomore baseball player who helped design the dugouts, said he's looking forward to using them as a player next year. Even more so, he said, he relishes the experience he gained.

“It was ... unlike anything I've ever done here,” he said. “It's really cool to see your hard work come together, and I'm excited to see the final product.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or

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