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Going the extra mile(s)


A group of building construction students, grateful to see a familiar faculty face after six weeks away from their Pennsylvania College of Technology classes, were on the receiving end of some very special deliveries Friday.

In a Keystone State journey that covered more than 500 miles – a top-to-bottom odyssey that included stops in Tunkhannock, Plymouth Meeting, Lehighton, Allentown and Harrisburg – instructor Charles C. “Chris” Warren dropped off materials so students in his Interior Finish class could, well, finish a pared-down version of their laboratory project at home.

A well-traveled Warren (foreground) completes a delivery to Stahley in a vacant parking lot.
A well-traveled Warren (foreground) completes a delivery to Stahley in a vacant parking lot.

Warren and his building construction technology colleagues (like faculty across the institution’s campuses) have been teaching via webcam, but the lab work requires the hands-on Penn College touch.

So he left State College at dawn, loaded the truckbed at the School of Construction & Design Technologies, and set off on his mission.

“Mr. Warren has been doing Zoom sessions and giving us the best he can,” said Jack E. Stahley, a residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration major from Allentown. “You know the faculty care when they do this.”

Classmate Nathan S. Holloway, a building construction technology student from Smethport, was equally philosophical about the COVID-19 curveball tossed at mid-semester.

“This learning experience is definitely something different. I think it’s good to be out of our comfort zones and trying new things with the Zoom chat meetings,” he said. “Also, I believe it’s good we’re still learning everything we were scheduled to learn. This online experience hasn’t been that bad.”

Brady T. Wolfe, who traveled with his mother from Myersville, Md., to Harrisburg, signals another successful transfer of materials. He is enrolled in residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration.
Brady T. Wolfe, who traveled with his mother from Myersville, Md., to Harrisburg, signals another successful transfer of materials. He is enrolled in residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration.

Stahley and Holloway are among the students who have been off-campus since Spring Break began in early March, weathering an admittedly tough situation by largely staying indoors and following Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders.

“This unconventional form of education is the exact opposite of what our college’s hands-on based instruction requires. However, we have come together to adapt to these changes that have been forced upon us,” Stahley said. “We, as Penn College students, are problem-solvers and this has been our biggest challenge yet. In the field, we will have to overcome these difficulties and figure out how we can still get the project at hand completed, and completed successfully.”

He said Warren is proof that it’s possible to think outside the box and get the job done – remotely learning in a lab-based environment.

“This is a great example of how we are different than any other college,” Stahley said, “perfectly showing what we are all about: not just taking the easy way out of a situation, but coming together as a team and conquering it.

“I am proud to say that I am a student at PCT because there is so much more to us and who we are than ‘just’ a hands-on school.”

Warren and the students observed prescribed safety measures at every dropoff, wearing face masks and gloves, and ensuring that the outdoor deliveries followed social-distancing guidelines.

Home Depot in Bloomsburg donated about $300 worth of adhesives, grout, and other tools and supplies needed by the students. Lumber Liquidators kicked in an estimated $150 in additional materials, including engineered wood flooring and tile.

Photos provided

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