Lions Club members helped Richmond Academy students Max Henderson (left) and Josh Jeffrey celebrate their sixteenth birthdays with a birthday burger at last week’s student appreciation barbecue.

LOUISDALE: A recent partnership between local high school students and the Louisdale Lions Club has proven to be a win-win situation for the community.

On June 4, Lions Club members hosted a barbecue at the Louisdale Lions Community Centre as a way to say thank you to group of Grade 10 Richmond Academy Options and Opportunities students who helped with the full renovation of the building.

“Any opportunity they get to work with their hands, they’re all about it,” said Richmond Academy teacher Tommy Samson.

Samson, who worked with the students on the project, said the students have worked tirelessly on most phases of the renovation. Upgrades to the facility began last June with the installation of new siding, roofing, windows, and exterior work.

“We started heavy with the kids in the fall doing the flooring, window trim, acoustic panels, painting, and all the frame stuff. The kids also redid the chairs and all the new legs, and they built all the dartboard cabinets,” Samson said.

Building upgrades also included the construction of a new stage, kitchen renovations, new washroom facilities and a full HD presentation system, including a HD projector with a motorized screen.

On June 4, Lions Club members hosted a barbecue at the Louisdale Lions Community Centre.

Samson said the partnership between his students and the local Lions club has been going on for nearly five years.

“We’ve had students every year work with them on different projects,” said Samson. “This group has been fantastic to bring them on board. They’ve been very forgiving and tolerant of the learning process. We’re quite pleased.”

The current group of students has also worked with the Lions group to assist families with cutting, packing, splitting, and transporting their winter fuel wood, as well as with a community cleanup.

“This group of teenagers is helping to develop an age-friendly community through their willingness to learn from and work with community groups,” said Samson.

Samson said the students had the opportunity to grow and learn as they saw the positive impact they could have on others.

“I can’t teach that,” he said. “They have to experience it to understand the empathy of giving back to the community, so that was very positive.”

Samson added that as word got out about the students’ involvement with the Lions Club renovation project, more and more community members came forward to help. Samson said the group received some funding assistance from provincial and municipal grants.

“Demographically, there’s a need to have a community-owned facility that has the capacity for conferences with this type of technology, the projector and the full sound system,” he said.

The students have also benefitted by gaining practical skills that can be applied in other areas of life. Maxwell Henderson was one of the students who helped with the community centre project.

“It was amazing. It’s good to actually be able to do stuff other than school work, to actually have hands-on activities and be able to help out with the community,” said Henderson. “I learned how to use a lot of tools that I’d never even touched before, like the quick drive drill we used for the flooring. I’ve never even seen one, and I learned how to use it.”

Incoming Lions Club president Gary Samson said members were impressed with the students’ work and their willingness to help.

“They couldn’t believe what the kids were doing really. Whatever you asked them to do, they would do,” Samson said. “They gained lots of experience, and now they can handle cutting wood and taking measurements.”

Samson said he hopes to continue working with Richmond Academy students on future projects.

“We’ve got lots of projects on the go. We’re going to make them work,” he said.