Huot Center students entrusted with putting up multi-purpose building at new LHS stadium

LACONIA — For the many athletes, coaches, officials and spectators who come to the newly rebuilt Laconia High School athletic fields starting this fall, a new building will serve as a convenient and well-constructed place to get a bite to eat or visit the restroom. For the nearly 60 students who built the structure, it represents a learning experience they'll probably recall for the rest of their lives.
The concessions stand building is part of the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium, an athletic complex currently being constructed behind the school. When finished, the facility will be the best of its kind in the region and one of the best high school athletic facilities in the state.
Although not as glorious as the state-of-the-art artificial playing field or the grandstands and stone press box – the last of which provided by Mas-Con Corporation of Laconia  – the concessions stand will serve a vital role in nearly every contest held at the facility for decades to come. And, excepting only the foundation and the electrical work, it will have been built by students in the Huot Regional Technical Education Center's plumbing and heating, and building and construction classes.
The students' involvement in the project will save the city tens of thousands of dollars in labor costs. Meanwhile, for the students who provided that labor, they've gained insight and experience into a trade that they will be able to enter as soon as they graduate.
The building referred to on plans as the Concession Stand is more than its title implies. The 50 feet by 25 feet, single-story building includes restrooms, a ticket booth, an indoor kitchen with counters, sinks, fridges and freezers, and an outdoor cooking area that will be fitted for gas grills.
Mike Schofield, the school's plumbing and heating teacher, said the students began working on the project in March and are pushing to put the finishing touches in place by the last day of school. Several students have offered to return to the job site during summer vacation to finish the job, he said, if there's still work to do.
"This is real work, hands-on experience. This is what they'll do if they go into the field... They're going to do soup to nuts, everything," said Schofield.
As in many of the Huot programs, students both plumbing and heating, and building and construction, will graduate with the skills needed to begin a career in the trades. Schofield's students, for example, will be eligible to become a plumber's apprentice.
Nate Desmarais, a senior from Belmont High School and one of the skilled students, is considering an apprenticeship in either plumbing or HVAC. Desmarais said he's learned more working on the concession stand than would have been possible in a classroom. "Anyone can throw a book at you," he said, but it's something different to do the work with his own hands. "I learn something new every day I come to this site."
Cassie Shults, a senior from Winnisquam High School and also a member of the plumbing and heating class, agreed. "You can read in a book how to solder, but until you get hands-on experience," she said, it remains an abstract concept. By helping to build the concession stand, she turned the abstract into concrete. Shults, who is trying to decide whether to pursue a career in either plumbing or nursing, appreciated the opportunity to install the plumbing in a new construction, work which included steps she hadn't done when helping her class to repair or maintain existing systems. "It's those beginning steps that you don't really see."
Building and construction teacher Matt Towle said that having the site behind the school has saved transportation time and costs. It is also a site that the students will likely revisit in later years, when they come to watch a high school game.
Towle and Schofield estimated that the value of the labor provided by the students is easily in the tens of thousands of dollars. Towle added that Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company "has been fantastic," donating a crane for a day and providing an expert to instruct the students on the finer points of roof trusses.
With the building taking shape, Towle said he's been impressed with the dedication and attention to detail the students have brought to the task. "What we're getting done in a pretty small amount of time is pretty great," he said.
Schofield noted that the young workers haven't forgotten quality on their way to expeditiousness, either. "I'm extremely proud of what they've done — I'm amazed," he said.

Inter-Lakes High School seniors and students in the Huot Technical Center's plumbing and heating class. James Horne (front) and Dylan Bennett, dig a trench in a building that will be used as a concession stand at Laconia High School's Bank of New Hampshire Stadium, currently under construction. Huot students are building nearly all of the concession stand. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Shown here are students and teachers in the Huot Technical Center's plumbing and heating, and building and construction classes. In the background is the concession stand that students are building, which will be part of Laconia High School's Bank of New Hampshire Stadium. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)