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Oblock students create cafe to study and socialize

Michael DiVittorio
| Monday, March 5, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
Oblock Junior High School seventh-gradersConnor Pivirotto and Cameron Porado with teacher Bill DePew in the Around the Block Cafe.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Oblock Junior High School seventh-gradersConnor Pivirotto and Cameron Porado with teacher Bill DePew in the Around the Block Cafe.
A view of the Around the Block Cafe created by students at Oblock Junior High School in Plum.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
A view of the Around the Block Cafe created by students at Oblock Junior High School in Plum.

Seventh-grader Cameron Porado is no stranger to labor.

He is not afraid to put on work gloves, climb ladders and get tasks accomplished.

That's why he did not hesitate when asked to help install a cafe with fellow classmates at Oblock Junior High School in Plum.

“We're hands-on, manual labor kind of guys,” said Cameron, 13. “We broomed the floor first and started picking up other things. It's been a very fun experience — a lot accomplished in a little bit of time.”

Students and staff, led by art teacher Bill DePew, started in January to turn the empty lobby at the main entrance of the school at 440 Presque Isle Drive into what was christened recently as the Around the Block Cafe.

DePew said the project was made possible through a donations from Oblock's Parent-Teacher Student Association, Plum District Judge Linda Zucco and area businesses.

“There was nothing out here,” DePew said looking out over the colorful cafe. “It was just a big open space. We thought this would be a good opportunity to make it more inviting.”

The study and snack space features couches and other furniture, some of which the students etched with the Plum Mustangs logo. A door from a high school serving what was then Plum Township in 1939 was made into a long table underneath a 60-inch flat-screen television and sound system.

Teachers can link up to the TV and teach lessons from there, and the cafe has WiFi.

Other tables were formed from large, empty wooden wire spools. More counters may be installed this school year.

Decorative pieces were made by art students, including a memorial table dedicated to military personnel. The table has a mosaic surface with a Purple Heart medal at the top, four soldiers in front of a red, white and blue background, and the words “Never Forget” at the bottom encapsulated in camouflage.

“It was very fun and a lot better than what you think manual labor is,” student Connor Pivirotto said. “We got to do something for our study hall that you typically wouldn't do.”

Connor said the cafe is a comfortable place for students to study and socialize.

“It's not cramped. It's not under-filled,” Cameron said. “Everything has its place. I think it has everything it needs.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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