Senior class learns about service
October 10, 2008
For kids living in Park City, a visit to the Navajo Indian Reservation on the Utah and Arizona border is a little like leaving the country. The senior class at the Winter Sports School in Park City just returned from a three-day community service trip to Monument Valley, Utah. Rob Clayton, Winter Sports School headmaster, described the area as a rough part of the country that very few people get to experience firsthand.
The trip has become a tradition, this being the fifth year that the senior expedition went down south to help the Navajos. Nine students and two chaperones, including Clayton, built a carport for an 85-year-old named House Woody, who doesn’t speak English.
According to Taylor Guetschow, Winter Sports School senior, House Woody was an active member of the Navajo community, and one lady who lived in the house with House Woody was a local school teacher.
Guetschow explained that part of the reservation gets very hot in the summer, and the carport they built will provide some much appreciated shade that could cool down the house as much as 10 degrees during the hot summer months.
Clayton said their projects the last few years have served to provide shade and storage space. The type of structure they build is extremely valuable in the desert climate because in the summer, residents can open the windows beneath the shades, then a cool breeze blows through their house, coming in from beneath the shady awning, instead of just more blisteringly hot air blowing in through the house.
The senior class explained that none of them had much experience in construction. They said Clayton provided the carpentry expertise for the project. Clayton said that each spring he gets pictures of the structure they plan to add on to the next fall. He then takes the pictures to an architect in town, and starts making plans and gathering supplies. According to Clayton, Diamond Rental in Park City donated supplies to help them transport all their building supplies.
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The students learned about more than just community service. Clayton said students were also reminded about the fortunate lives they live in Park City. Clayton pointed out the dramatic difference between his student- athletes, who spend most of their winter traveling, and the Navajo who spend almost all their lives in the same small area. Also, Clayton thinks it’s valuable for his students to learn a trade and become experienced working with their hands.
One of the highlights of the trip for the students were the Navajo tacos that they were treated to after they completed the project. The students explained that Navajo tacos are unlike anything you can buy anywhere, especially at fast food restaurants. The tacos were made from fried bread, salsa, chili, sour cream, and some other unique ingredients. They also learned from Woody how to say a few phrases in Navajo.
Guetschow explained how the project was an eye opener about how diverse the state of Utah is. Dakota Schlag, Winter Sports School student, said that it was cool to see such a different culture that lives in this country.
The students were also impacted by spending time in an isolated location. They stayed at a campsite. The students said they were without reliable cell phone service, and were warned not to hurt themselves, because there weren’t any medical facilities close by. Brooke Bohus, a senior at the Winter Sports School, said that it was nice to escape from the world, the news and incessant discussions about the economic crisis.
The trip was also a chance for the senior class to learn about each other. Taylor Hawley said that he got to bond, not only with his fellow classmates, but also with the headmaster. Bailey Gawen said that throughout the trip, especially during the seven-hour car ride, she learned a lot about her classmates.