CHS Residential Construction staff and students in front of the partially finished information booth front row from left: Teacher Shawn Caldwell, Triston Schermerhorn, Craig Coons, Valerie Denning, Kyle Nehmens. Back row from left: Rich Kratt, Jon Elbert, Randy Van Alstyne, Corey Dexheimer. (Photo by Patrick Wemitt)

Columbia County fairgoers will be greeted in August by a brand new information booth built by Chatham High School students this spring under the direction of teacher Shawn Caldwell. Considered the most challenging project the Residential Construction class has undertaken so far, the new booth replaces a smaller and more dated structure at the entrance to the fairgrounds on Route 203.

“Students really take pride in knowing they are building something that will benefit an organization and they can say ‘hey, I helped with that,’” said Caldwell of the project. A technology teacher at CHS, Caldwell teaches Residential Construction every other year. The past three classes have built sheds for the Northern Columbia County Pop Warner program, Chatham Central School District and the Chatham Little League.

The project was started at the school and then brought over to the fairgrounds for completion, according to Caldwell. The class began formulating plans and constructing the exterior walls, framing and sheathing each wall at school. The class brought all the walls over from school and put them in place in May which included an 8 by 12 foot covered area attached to a 8 by 12 foot structure that the class built. Students framed the covered area on site and then set the trusses for the roof and began sheathing. The class came back a week later and finished sheathing the roof, shingled it and completed trim work, according to Caldwell. “The amount of work we accomplished in those two days is a testament to the students’ ability to put directions into action and a great work ethic,” he said.

During the course of the project, students learned how to read blueprints, frame a wall with a door or window, make a wall ‘square’ and install sheathing, set walls and make sure they are plumb, install beams and posts, set trusses, install facia, sheath a roof, install a roof system from drip edge to shingles and ridge vent. Students learned correct measuring techniques and how to use hand and power tools safely in the proper manner.

“It’s something these kids can tell people 10 years from now they helped build,” said Brian Madsen, director of the Buildings and Grounds Committee for the fair. “It’s a good deed for the kids and a great program for the school that gives something back to the community.”

The 178th Columbia County Fair runs Wednesday, Aug. 29 through Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 3 at the fairgrounds at Routes 66 and 203 in Chatham. Children ages 12 and under continue to get in free daily. Parking for the entire six-day run of the fair is free. The fair is presented by the Columbia County Agricultural Society, a private, non-profit organization.