August is “back to school” month. Right now, students and families, teachers and administrators are all making preparations to return to classrooms. Kids of all ages will be embarking on another milestone towards the next step in their lives – adding more benchmarks to their first 18 years of preparation before being released to pursue their dreams.
Over the summer, a special group of about 40 Round Rock ISD students were making preparations of another sort. They are the second cohort of the Ranger ACE Construction Camp, who built a basketball court at Vic Robertson Elementary. Last Saturday (July 24) the students were celebrated by the community for a job well done. Attendees included the Round Rock Mayor Pro Tem, the Superintendent of Round Rock ISD, camp leadership, program sponsors, and the RRISD Career and Technical Education leadership. Also…THE Coyote, mascot of the San Antonio Spurs. It was a big deal.
The campers did not simply set molds and pour concrete. They helped design, survey, estimate material costs, write bids, and plan the project – all before picking up a shovel. Students invested time and work in the project, guided by camp leaders and sponsor experts. You can see photos on the Vic Robertson Elementary Facebook page, and even more detailed photos and descriptions of the entire process on the Ranger ACE Construction Camp Facebook page.
In a time when the world faces so many challenges, it was a great reminder that lasting changes can still be made with some hard work and concrete. The two months of work put in to build the basketball court will be enjoyed by students attending Robertson Elementary decades after the campers have graduated and moved on to building lives and families of their own. They left a lasting asset for a future generation to enjoy.
The program sponsors, provided materials and equipment at no cost to the district – and – invested their time and expertise with the students. All are leaders in innovative programs to help students find a career to be excited about. The camp is led by the Covalent Foundation (philanthropic arm of Ranger Excavation) and organizes the program to simultaneously teach middle and high schoolers about the construction industry and give back to the community.
In the same way that the student’s investment of time has created a lasting asset for future students, the time and financial resources invested by the program sponsors and organizers have built lasting opportunity for the students and their families. The experience they provided campers has the potential to turn into lasting, multi-generational wealth creation in the students lives and that of their children.
Tours, camps, hands-on programs, and excited professionals are what can ignite the curiosity of students at the very time when they begin to consider what they want to accomplish in their lives. It is difficult to measure, and impossible to predict exactly when and how that occurs – but most professionals I talk to can point to an experience or a positive influence that helped them find a focus on an exciting career.
None of this would be possible without strong partnerships between the education and business communities. It takes both a willing administrative leadership and private sector leaders that see the short-term and long-term benefit partnerships can make in peoples lives. Career and Technology Education leaders, Peggy Mica and Sheri Bonds foster the relationships to make this, and so many other programs possible for students.
This is the kind of program that helps everyone win, and just one of the things that makes Round Rock more than 130,000 people that live in the same city. It makes us a community. That’s definitely worthy of celebrating with a mascot!