A group of students at the Center for Technology, Essex recently put their skills to use and built raised garden beds that allow for handicap-accessible gardening behind Essex High School.

The project was inspired by EHS physical education teacher Sandy Cahill, who wanted to find a way to help special education students in wheelchairs partake in the springtime hobby.

She reached out to David Carter’s pre-tech class that focuses on building arts and small engine systems. Carter’s class met with the students who would use the two flower beds and then set aside a day to crank out the structures. They were met with applause last Thursday morning from members of the special education community as they delivered the beds behind the school.

Built of cedar donated from a local resident, the beds will now be filled with soil and compost donated from CTE’s agricultural program.

Carter said the project is one of several community service projects his program has undertaken. He said the projects allow his students to take pride in their work and spend time with a population they might not otherwise have much interaction with. And they see how their skills can be used to give back to the community.

“That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about building,” Carter said. “To be able to stand back and look at what you’ve done. Now, there’s these planter boxes that everyday they’re going to walk by, look at and have that sense of pride.”

One of those students, 10th-grader Levi Ashline, shared a similar assessment.

“[It feels] pretty good to help someone,” he said.

Photos by Colin Flanders, Essex Reporter