By PETER KASPARI
LAURENS - A group of Laurens-Marathon High School students used their industrial technology skills to not only complete a major design project, but also give back to their school in the form of a new bench.
The bench was created by students in Ken Kunickis' construction class. According to Laurens-Marathon Community School Superintendent Iner Joelson, the bench originally began as a class project.
"Mr. Kunickis wanted to make sure that whatever his kids were going to do would go across the spectrum of engineering and design," Joelson said. "They wanted to complete a project that was manageable and something useful that could be a part of the school."
Joelson said the students began working on the project shortly after school began, and were involved in every aspect of the design and creation.
"They had to draft a project proposal, then they had to come in and present the project," he said. "They had to ask themselves if it was something worthy for the school and something they could accomplish. After they presented it, I approved the project."
Joelson said the school had talked about installing a new bench on the school grounds for a number of years. However, school officials had a difficult time figuring out exactly where to put the bench.
The students in Kunickis' class helped solve that problem.
"Mr. Kunickis talked with the class about where it would be located," he said. "They had a discussion and came up with the ideal place."
That location was just outside the doors that lead to the school's recess area.
So far, Joelson said the bench has received a positive response.
"The elementary teachers' associates, who do recess duty, were concerned that it might be in the way," he said. "But they quickly found out it was really beneficial to them. Kids can now sit on the bench instead of the ground. It wasn't an impediment, it was a benefit."
Joelson said the project shows the students' commitment to both the school and community.
"We have a really great group of kids here at Laurens-Marathon," he said. "We've had kids who have always stepped up to help the community and each other. There's a remarkable sense of family here where everybody pulls together and helps each other out."
He added that the bench is more than just a bench.
"These kids came together in class and they created a product that they felt a need for in the school community," Joelson said. "They used the principles of design and engineering to bring that project to life. They did all the footwork and put the project together."