Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

In hands-on learning, Steelton-Highspire students work with Home Depot to beautify school

Steelton-Highspire Jr./Sr. High School students and Home Depot volunteers paint outside the school building

Steelton-Highspire Jr./Sr. High School will look a little brighter after a beautification project by students and community members.

On Wednesday, students completing summer programming mulched, painted and built picnic tables with volunteers from Home Depot, which awarded the school a nearly $20,000 grant for the project.

“It’s like true community,” said Eleni Cordero, Jr./Sr. High principal at Steelton-Highspire. “The financial aspect is the bonus. The real thing to me is we are changing the culture of education.”

This summer, programming for the district’s credit-deficient students is a lot more hands-on, Cordero explained. Students have been planning, designing and proposing projects to complete during the summer months, using math, computer and science skills along the way, she said. Wednesday’s work was an effort to put their planning in action.

“Our kids want hands-on engagement,” Cordero said. “They’re going to be able to come to school and say ‘I built that.’”

Steelton-Highspire Jr./Sr. High School students and Home Depot volunteers

During a trip to a Home Depot in York for a personal home project, by chance, Cordero met Manager Tedd Terry who had volunteered for a project at Steelton-Highspire Elementary School 15 years ago. Now, he was interested in the project the school was undertaking this year.

According to Terry, the corporation has a grant program to support community projects, and what the high school was doing was a perfect fit.

“We are always looking to be able to reach into the community,” he said. “One of our values is giving back.”

On Wednesday, 50 Home Depot volunteers from across nine local stores worked alongside students, teachers and administrators to landscape, paint, build and mulch. But this is only the start, as volunteers plan to return to complete more work at a later date, Terry said.

“It’s a huge deal and will help our district move forward,” Cordero said. “This is just the beginning.”

As ninth-grader Taniah Jackson rolled blue paint onto a column in front of the school building, she said that she didn’t expect to be doing projects like this at school. She had never painted before, but was enjoying the hands-on learning experience.

“The mindset about summer school used to be, ‘I failed,’ but now I have kids saying they want to come,” Cordero said.

For more information about the Steelton-Highspire School District, visit their website.


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