ST. JOHNSBURY — Arlington School gives students the tools they need to succeed at hands-on learning opportunities.

Tools recently needed included those necessary to construct a small building designed to be an ice shanty or a garden shed.

The 4-feet x 8-feet wood structure was built under the guidance of Arlington School teacher and counselor Joe Cornelius. It’s not the first construction project Cornelius has led at the school. Students have built a catapult and a trebuchet and launched watermelons at the Caledonia Forest & Stream Club. They built a small solar-powered vehicle that moved by the power of the sun and launched a weather balloon.

“We use hands-on projects as a means to encourage creativity and real-life skills,” said Cornelius. “But also hands-on experience promotes a good sense of structure when efforts clearly make results.”

The result of the shanty/shed is evident to anyone driving to or past Lyndonville Hardware and Lumber on Broad Street in Lyndonville. Complete with a metal roof and a stained glass window that shows the image of a fish, the structure sits on a trailer parked near the parking lot entrance of the hardware store.

The store’s general manager, Troy Richard, agreed to place the shanty in a prime spot along a well-traveled road and is helping promote the sale of raffle tickets for someone to win the building. Color brochures with information about the project are found at the counters of the store, and clerks are selling tickets. Purchase a chance to win now. Each raffle ticket is $10 (buy five, get a sixth ticket for free). The drawing is set for Jan. 18 at noon at the store. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the school as a fundraiser to buy materials for future projects. Lyndonville Hardware and Lumber is not taking any of the money for ticket sales.

“We’re happy to help the community out as much as we can,” said Richard, who recently took over as manager after the acquisition of the store by Aubuchon Hardware. “We want to promote the same hometown feel as before.”

In addition to giving the shanty exposure and helping with ticket sales, the store is also kicking in a $100 gift card and some DeWALT tools to the raffle winner. Richard also said he has spoken to Cornelius about contributing some materials for the school’s next project, which hasn’t been decided, said Cornelius, but may be small wooden playhouses for young children.

“To me, I believe that in the age of electronic devices young people are not given opportunities to simply hammer a nail and or turn a wrench with the satisfaction that can bring,” said Cornelius. “I hate for basic craftsmanship to become a lost idea for this generation. When a project is complete, it’s enjoyable to see the look of disbelief on their faces when they stand back and say ‘We made that?’.”

He said, “We decided this year to build an ice shanty because we live in the Northeast Kingdom, but we were careful to build it so that it could be used as a garden shed as well for people who don’t ice fish.”

The fish that is artistically part of the stained glass window was created by the school’s art teacher, Robin Wimbiscus with assistance from some of her students.

Arlington School has 40 students.

“Often a project will be completed within a few months, with students working on the projects when there is time in their schedules,” said Cornelius. “This offers a good break from academics.”

To win the shanty, ticket buyers need not be present at the hardware store to win, but to claim the gift card and DeWALT tools, a ticket buyer must be present for the noon drawing on Jan. 18. Tickets can also be purchased at Lyndonville Agway, as well as Allen Lumber in St. Johnsbury.


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