‘This is education coming to life’
Nick Capri is, literally, standing in the shadow of a building of his own design.
Now a student at Penn State at the main campus in State College, Capri returned to the campus of Emmaus High School recently to help dedicate the press box he and his classmates built as part of an architecture course taught by Scott Didra in 2014.
Capri’s design was selected among those submitted by students. The students worked on the design in class, built it and helped with the installation of the building at Memorial Field at the school.
“It’s an incredible experience. I don’t know how to describe the feeling. It was just an idea in my head,” Capri said. “I don’t know how to describe that feeling but it’s a good one.”
Capri was joined by fellow Emmaus alums Aaron Haninchick. Lexi Buckalew, Anthony Galucci, Tyler Harris and Dakota DeLong on a warm spring day to see the dedication of the finished press box by Didra.
Didra presented plaques to students, staff, borough officials and community members involved in the project. Video and slide presentations depicted the history of the project. Buckalew took the inaugural ride in the ADA approved lift that rises from the ground to the press box entrance.
In a heartfelt brief speech during the ceremony Buckalew talked about the project and thanked Didra.
“He will be that one teacher I will never forget,” Buckalew said.
In his remarks, Didra gave a brief history of the press box project.
Following a project to build a ticket booth at the field, the press box had its own set of challenges. The structure needed to be elevated to allow for a near panoramic view of the field for members of the press covering the games. The press box needed to be roomy enough to allow space for laptops, cameras and other equipment used by several members of the media while covering a game. The box also needed to be accessible.
Dennis Ramella, director of athletics at EHS, was the client for the project. He visited Didra’s classes to present his vision for the press box and checked in with the class as the project continued.
“I thank Mr. Didra for accepting the challenge,” Ramella said at the ceremony. “This is education coming to life.”
Students built the press box structure in the courtyard behind Didra’s classroom. Size constraints dictated the box be constructed in two distinct sections, each requiring transportation from the courtyard to Memorial Field to be installed on a concrete slab and assembled into a two-story structure. Construction and moving specialists were among those who volunteered their time to help with the project.
Building professionals from local businesses as well as national franchises donated expertise and materials. Students brought ideas and sweat equity.
“Today is about a celebration of what they did and the community,” Didra said. “The kids are awesome.”
The ceremony also was a celebration of Didra who retires at the close of the academic year.
“I will be back to see them and visit,” Didra said. “I will miss them.”
In the meantime, there is a lot to do.
This year’s architecture project is to build an observatory.