Esperanza students<br>finish up new ramp

Esperanza Academy’s Life Skills students are putting the finishing touches on a wheelchair ramp built at the home of Pinon Park resident Shirley Robinson.

Thomas Robinson, sitting, goes over the wheelchair ramp project while Filiberto Valerio points out details during a powerpoint presentation.

Students Thomas Robinson and Filiberto Valerio gave a powerpoint presentation to the Grand Canyon Rotary Club Thursday to detail the project, which began about four months ago and will be finished soon after stain is applied.

"I think this is a great program for the kids," said Andrew Aldaz, the school’s director of maintenance who helped bring the project all together. "Not only do they learn about building something, but also communication. The skills they learned can be used anywhere they go ... it prepares them to go out into the business world we live in."

The Rotary Club, the American Legion’s John Ivens Post No. 42 and the Lions Club came together to contribute money for the project.

"About a year ago, we were approached with the idea of building a ramp," Rotary’s Nicky Lindig said. "The price was what you would expect. Some clubs were agreeable to help out ... and Ken Olsen came up with the idea of turning it into a community project."

Esperanza Academy, which operates at the local school in part through funding from Coconino County, contributed a dozen students to the ramp for about two hours a day.

"I’ve enjoyed working with these kids," Esperanza instructor Bill McCloskey said. "If everything keeps going, we’ll have six graduate this year. We had two graduate last year."

McCloskey teaches the students skills revolving around four qualities — honesty, responsibility, respect and cooperation.

Besides Rotarians, the presentation was also attended by Lions Club president Ginny Donley, John Ivens Post commander Ken Talakte and Coconino County associate superintendent of schools Joe Alvarado.

Robinson, who is currently in a multiple sclerosis facility in Spokane, Wash., is expected to return home in April.

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