High School Students Build Playground for Mantua Township Elementary School

J Mason Tomlin Playground

Students Build Playground!

Twenty-one students from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s (GCIT) construction technology program worked diligently to assemble a new playground for the students at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School (JMT) over two days in August.

According to Dan Roskiewich, welding instructor and construction trades coordinator at GCIT, the district requested the students’ expertise. “We have construction, welding and HVAC students showing how proud they are to be future tradesmen,” says Roskiewich. It’s not only a win for the students; their involvement also provided cost savings to the district.

LSI_J_ason_Tomlin_build_4 JMT Principal Robert Preziosi praised the GCIT students for their work ethic, positive attitude and politeness. “It’s refreshing to see such quality young men doing a wonderful job,” he said.

Vicki LaSala said the students’ volunteerism made the whole project possible. “The existing equipment was not age appropriate. We needed to upgrade it to serve grades four through six,” said LaSala, JTM PTO treasurer. “If we didn’t have these volunteers, we would’ve had to put more money into installation. We were down to the penny with the money we raised. These students are a wonderful resource,” she adds.

LSI_J_Mason_Tmlin_build_1 It was obvious from the time the GCIT students arrived that the younger students were thrilled by the high school students’ presence. They were greeted by thunderous applause when they arrived at the site.

Carpentry major Brandon Rothwein, 16, of West Deptford Township, said he was happy to get real-life experience and work beside his peers. “I’ve been drilling holes to set up the posts for the jungle gyms,” said Brandon. “It teaches you to rely on others and to be relied on. I think we’ll definitely get it done within these two days.”

“This will help in the future when we graduate,” said Isaiah, an HVAC major. “It helps us as students and this school. I think we’re doing great so far. When we were inside, a couple of students came over to say thank you. They’re really excited.”

Dominick Marino, of Woodstown, said they learned how to be “team players.” “I’ve been running the Bobcat most of the day,” explains the 16-year-old welding major. “It’s going very well so far. I think it shows we work well with one another and communicate well. And I think the kids will love it.”

LSI_J_Mason_Tomlin_build_2 General Recreation’s local playground consultant, Michael Wiley, was impressed by the GCIT students’ skills. “With this kind of manpower, it goes a lot faster and saves the district a lot of money,” explains Wiley. “I’m stunned at their level of professionalism.”

LSI_J_Mason_Tomlin_build_3 “As a GCIT teacher, to have the kids come out here and take over has been incredible,” said Roskiewich. The hands-on experience they’re getting is invaluable.”

Gloucester County Special Services Superintendent Michael Dicken said the project shows why students go to GCIT. “It’s very refreshing to see them take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it,” said Dicken. “This is what it’s all about. GCIT was built on community service and volunteerism, so this is a great way to give back to the community.”

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