LARNED — Friday’s renovation work at Doerr-Vernon Park was the epitome of a learning exercise.
More than 240 Larned High School students were divided into work groups with a designated task supervised by a Larned USD 495 teacher or staff member.
There were holes to dig, concrete pieces and street signs to remove, painting to be done and more holes to dig. Friday wasn’t a day to take it easy or clown around.
Playground facilities at Doerr-Vernon Park will be replaced by a Splash Pad featuring a Fort Larned Frontier theme. A $125,000 grant will pay for materials. The Larned Pride project is supported by the Kansas State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce.
What carried the possibility of mayhem turned into a lesson on community service.
Larned High Principal Troy Langdon said students were randomly assigned jobs in their seminar classes and split into 20 groups.
“It was 240 students focused on one goal,” Langdon said. “It taught them a lot about community pride and how they could make a difference. I was very impressed. They knew what they wanted to accomplish.”
Friends worked side-by-side with their friends.
“The guys did a good job with the heavy lifting,” Langdon said. “When a group got done with one job, they’d help with something else. The students worked hard and were well behaved.”
Larned Pride organizer Angie Murray was thankful everyone was blessed with moderate temperatures and light wind.
“God was definitely shining on us,” she said. “The group leaders were awfully proud of their students. They were determined to get their work done and took great pride in getting things done right. They did a fantastic job working together.”
Murray said some group leaders assigned students to leadership roles to better understand how smaller groups operate.
“It gave them perspective on how organizational things work,” she said.
Everyone stayed on schedule and concrete was getting poured by the end of the day for a Fort-themed Play Structure.
Digging out old mortar from the Doerr-Vernon tennis courts was a labor-intensive job that required most of the students’ time. The cracks will be repoured with concrete and sealed properly. Murray said work on the tennis courts was a bonus that was proposed by Don Gaeddert, Larned city manager.
“That was a job that required a lot of time and work,” Murray said. “That’s work that would be very expensive and time consuming.”
Group leader Justin Hammond said everything fell nicely into place, Shane Guthrie and Jason Toll also directed work crews. Josh Kraisinger, city of Larned parks superintendent, provided a major boost by operating a backhoe to help remove large concrete pieces from the playground.
“Everything was really well organized and the groups knew what they were going to do,” Hammond said. “It really went well, better than we expected. They got a lot of work done. There were heavy pieces to remove and lots of irrigation equipment to dig out.”
Extreme Work Weekends are planned April 8-10 and April 30-May 1. Hutton Construction crews will be assisted by The Larned Chamber Ambassadors, who will provide more than 50 employees April 9-10. Work schedules are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
The Fort Play Structure which spans over 30-by-40 feet has been started at the Vocational Training Program at the Larned State Hospital. The pieces that they pre-fab will be brought in on April 8 as volunteers begin to assemble this play piece.
Chad Eakin and Eakin Construction and Hutton Construction of Wichita, have been major contributors.