Spring Valley receives grant from Fairmont Minerals to build new storage buildingSpring Valley Middle/High School technology education students have received hands-on building experience on a large scale thanks to help from Fairmount Minerals’ Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company (WISC) mining facility.
MENOMONIE -- Spring Valley Middle/High School technology education students have received hands-on building experience on a large scale thanks to help from Fairmount Minerals’ Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company (WISC) mining facility.
Technology education instructor Nick Gilles submitted a grant application to WISC, requesting $17,289 for his class to build a 20' x 70' storage building at Spring Valley Middle/High School. The overall scope of the project was to build a six-bay storage facility that could be utilized by multiple departments within the Spring Valley School District—including the agriculture, technology and maintenance departments.
WISC awarded the grant, and Gilles led his team of students in framing, roofing, finishing and other crucial aspects of the construction process. Community businesses and contractors also assisted by volunteering expertise, equipment and labor. Fullerton’s Builder’s Choice, Timm Excavating, Team Oil Travel Center and Ross and Associates of River Falls all helped play a part in the successful completion of the project.
“It was such a great project that not only benefited Spring Valley schools, but also benefited the students involved,” said Lauren Evans, Wisconsin Regional Sustainable Development Coordinator for Fairmount Minerals. “We’re so proud of the work Mr. Gilles and his students were able to accomplish. It’s a great feeling when we can support community endeavors like this.”
With assistance from the WISC facility, Gilles was able to purchase building materials: lumber, roof trusses, roof and wall steel, trim pieces, overhead doors and installation, concrete for the floors and door aprons. The department was also able to buy several tools for the project, including a laser tripod level, cordless drill kits and safety harnesses for overhead work.
The sand-mining facility also donated a classroom set of 15 hardhats and 200 cubic yards of fill sand, along with the associated trucking costs. In total, WISC was able to contribute approximately $21,000 to the student project. The WISC facility produces high-purity silica sand for Fairmount’s Glass, Building, Santrol, Water and Sports + Recreation divisions.
Inside Gilles’ program was a collection of students with varying degrees of interest in the building trades. But what mattered to Gilles was that students took ownership of a project and saw the results of hard work and community support.
“They've made a large investment in their own school,” he said. “They can take pride in a job well done that will benefit future generations of Spring Valley students. My students heard over and over how the idea of giving back to the community is so important.”
Two senior students involved in the project had such a positive experience that they decided to pursue construction careers after high school.
“I think, more than reinforcing just the lessons, the interaction—working side by side with local contractors, seeing what they actually do—was the hook for my students,” Gilles said.
Typically, Gilles’ technology education classes build 8'x12' barns for a local lumber outlet to sell, so this year’s project was a much larger undertaking.
“This building project gave my students a much more authentic job-site feel than our typical small yard barns do,” Gilles said. “The sheer size, compared to the small barns, gave us several opportunities to discuss and perform site layouts, a lot plan, post layout and grades and elevations.”
A project of this size would not have been possible without the help of the WISC facility and the other community sponsors, Gilles said.
“Our small, rural high school is strapped financially just like many in Wisconsin,” he explained. “I saw this grant as a huge opportunity for me to significantly improve my construction class, my school and my students’ experiences, through a large scale, real world building project.”