GUILFORD — Dog owners now have shelter from the rain while their pooches frolic in the puddles at the Guilford Dog Park.
A 12- by 13-foot cedar gazebo, complete with a metal roof, was built by 12 Guilford High School students enrolled in the Advanced Woodworking class and erected at the dog park on Nut Plains Road.
The project was funded by a PetSafe Bark For Your Park grant, for improvements to the dog park.
“I think it’s great because on rainy days there’s somewhere to stand while the dogs can still enjoy the park,” said Catherine Marganski, one of the founding members of the park.
“We’re going to get a bench put under there, too,” added Marganski. “So, it’s nice people can relax.”
GHS Teacher David Hackett and his students, juniors and seniors, have been working with Guilford Parks & Rec for the last seven years to build projects of the kind around town. His students are aware of this expectation when they begin the class.
“I think it’s important that the students give back to the community and realize there’s a connection out there and they like doing that,” said Hackett, GHS Advanced Workworking teacher and department chair for Technology and Engineering.
“I do something every year, so they know when they take this class that we’re going to do something,” said Hackett. “In addition to whatever projects we’re working on, we always try to do at least one community project. They know that coming in, so they are expecting that’s part of what we do here.”
Other projects the students have participated in include the gate guard shelters at Jacobs Beach and Lake Quonnipaug, an entry kiosk at the National New England Trail beginning at Chittenden Park, in addition to working with the Audubon Society to built owl and tree swallow nesting boxes and osprey platforms.
“They never say no,” said Ellen Clow, recreation supervisor at Guilford Parks & Rec. “If an idea comes up and we go to them, they always are so willing and it’s so nice to see that process work with the youth in this community being able to give back.”
Hackett, a Madison resident, said this positive feeling is mutual.
“I just know that the students really like working on this and it really helps them understand the connection, ‘This is the town you grew up in and it’s more than just the school,’” said Hackett. “The school is part of a larger community.”
Guilford Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard appreciates the students’ commitment to the community.
“It’s just great having the students be part of this community service and using their talents they’ve learned in the class to provide something for the community,” said Maynard.
GHS senior Joe Walters, who is taking Advanced Woodworking for the second year, is proud of the dog park gazebo, as well as the other structures students have been a part of building town wide.
“If they’re doing the woodshop program, I really feel like you can’t get much better than that,” said the 19-year-old. “If you can do something that helps the community and you can put efforts in at the high school that can benefit everyone, I think it’s one of the best things a high-schooler can do.”