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CCHS students complete rock-climbing wall project

  • Marcus Cranshaw maneuvers his way up the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Tait Arndt, Robert Pittman, Mikiahi Webber and Owen Weber watch and secure a climber on the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Teacher Robert Pittman fastens the final rock into the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Kaleb Osier, who was in charge of construction, was one of the first to reach the top of the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Colby Gavitt looks down as he nears the top of the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Marcus Cranshaw maneuvers his way up the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Mason Teeter watches others as he prepares himself to climb the CCHS rock-climbing wall. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

Students at Charles City High School like to reach for the top — sometimes literally.

That was the case Wednesday morning, as CCHS social studies teacher Robert Pittman put the final nail into a student-built rock-climbing wall.

“It’s pretty cool to know that we designed and built the wall,” said student Adison Olson. “It was cool to get up on the wall and look down and say, ‘we built this.’”

Named Project 19, the school-wide interdisciplinary project for the 2018-19 school year is a student-designed, student-built, rock-climbing wall. The project is inclusive of several departments at the school and utilizes school-to-community partnerships.

The initial idea came from Pittman, who teaches a class called “Expeditions.” For the last four years Pittman has been taking students rock climbing.

“It’s really exciting to have this rock wall, because for our Expeditions class we did a lot of rock climbing, at Backbone (State Park) and Northern Iowa,” said student Mason Deeter.  “It’s pretty cool to have one in our own gym, where we can climb on here whenever we want for the class.”

Students set the climbing wall up in Jim Lundberg’s ag construction classroom, then moved it to the gym.

‘It was all right. Once we got about half way up, that’s when it got kind of hard,” said student Mikiahi Webber. “Rock climbing ain’t really my thing, but it’s kind of fun to do it, and fun now, to have one in our school.”

Senior Kaleb Osier, in class with both Pittman and Lundberg, was in charge of building the wall, and was one of the first students to climb to the top.

“Pittman showed me the plans, and he knew I was pretty good at woodworking,” Osier said. “I had to kind of help to get the plans to work for us — they weren’t a full set of plans.”

Project 18 last year was the construction of a tiny house — a student-designed, student-built, fully functional, 400-square foot house — that pulled together the skills and interests of students in art, agriculture construction, business and journalism classes, among others, as they designed, budgeted, built and promoted the school-wide project.

The rock-climbing wall does the same thing this year. The students held an obstacle course fundraiser, received several smaller grants from community organizations, a donation from the Excellence in Education fund, more donations from local banks as well as individuals, and raised enough money.

“I put a lot of hours into it,” Osier said. “I think it looks really good, and I like climbing it.”

The wall be a part of Pittman’s class as well as a part of the Charles City physical education program. Pittman has also talked with various community groups about utilizing the wall.

Olson said the fact that she and her classmates were all a part of building the wall made it more exciting to climb.

“I climbed the easiest one, to start out with,” she said. “It’s pretty fun — I didn’t go all the way up, because my feet hurt.”

The wall has four sections, each section with a different level of difficulty.

“It’s pretty scary. I went on the easiest one for starters, but it’s still pretty difficult,” said student Olivia Wolfe. “It’s really cool. It’s fun to challenge yourself, and once you’re all the way up at the top, it’s like — whoa — I’ve never been this high.”