GUERNSEY – Renovation work continues at the VFW Post No. 4471 building by hard hat, safety vest and goggle-wearing students in the trades class at Guernsey-Sunrise High School.
Efforts to breathe new life into the building on South Idaho Avenue started in 2017. Students began by renovating the upstairs restrooms.
During the 2018-19 school year, students replaced windows, installed improved lighting, and built a storage room for medical equipment the VFW loans out to veterans and community members.
But there’s still work that needs to be done: Americans with Disabilities Act-access and a new entryway to the front of the building, refinishing the wooden floors, giving the interior and stage a facelift, adding insulation in the walls and ceiling and installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that could make the building usable year-round.
While helping out a local group, students are learning a variety of skills during the project, G-S Industrial Technology Teacher Troy Reichert said.
“Soft skills are the big thing as far as behavior, attitude, work ethic, showing up on time and working in cold conditions,” Reichert said. “They’re learning all the job skills you need in a real-world environment.”
Reichert also said students are learning construction skills as well as plumbing and electrical work – basically “anything that they would get hired to do on a job site for a construction company.”
Reichert and his students wrote several grant applications to secure funding to begin the renovations. Over the past couple of years, The Home Depot Foundation, Harbor Freight’s Tools for Schools program and the Wyoming Department of Education have provided more than $15,000.
In spring 2019, Reichert applied for a grant from the Daniels Fund, the Denver-based private charitable foundation founded by Bill Daniels, a decorated World War II and Korean War fighter pilot. The school was notified in July of its success in securing a $70,000 grant from the foundation for the project.
Senior Preston Elmore has worked on the renovation project since its inception.
“I came in as a sophomore, and I didn’t know how to build these walls or anything,” Elmore said. “I never knew that the wall should be like 16 inches on center from stud to stud. Now I’m putting all that learning into helping my dad remodel the bathroom at our house. There’s a lot I’ve learned – from buying tools and equipment to use stuff like this to writing grants to get the money for it.”
Elmore said his future includes becoming a mechanic and working on automobiles.
“I don’t know if I want to go gas or diesel yet,” he said.
Reichert said he is pleased with the results so far.
“For kids that have never done any of this stuff, they do a pretty good job,” Reichert said.
The VFW project will continue during the winter and spring months, with May as the projected finish date.
Updated information and photos are posted regularly on two Facebook pages located at: G-S Vikings for Veterans and Guernsey-Sunrise SkillsUSA Chapter.