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Oxford Hills program encouraging creativity and community service
LEARNING AND PRESERVING — From left, Instructor John Bell, Oxford Hills senior Jonathan Cipolloso, and Albert Judd of Norway display computer-assisted blueprints and drawings of the Gingerbread House. Cipolloso created the floor plan and exterior view in Oxford Hills' Engineering and Architectural Design class.
NORWAY — Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School's Engineering and Architectural Design class (EAD) is allowing students to become a part of local history.
Recently, Jonathan Cipolloso, a student in the class, got involved with the Gingerbread House project in Norway. He took measurements of the historic building on Main Street and used the school's software to produce layouts of the floors and drawings of the building's exterior.
Members of the Gingerbread House Task Force, a local volunteer organization responsible for moving and restoring the building, are glad that Cipolloso had the chance to get involved. Albert Judd has been working on the project for more than a year and has been a member of the task force for nine months. He has been impressed with the quality of the work.
"It exceeds our expectations," he says. "I can't tell you how appreciative we are. It's an honor to have that kind of gift."
Judd hopes the Gingerbread House will be moved a short way up Main Street within the next two weeks. After that, the task force will seek professional help in creating a preservation plan that puts the house to good use. The blueprints that Cipolloso produced will be useful in that process.
"When we come up with a professional preservation plan these will be used, especially the layouts," Judd explained, "This is exactly what a professional architect does, goes out and measures everything."
The Gingerbread House Task Force intends to recognize him for his contributions. It has taken four of his designs, the layouts for all three floors and a view from outside, to Frost Farm Gallery and gotten them framed. When the Gingerbread House is moved and renovated, they become part of its history.
"They will hang in the house as historical items," says Judd.
Judd believes that the benefit is mutual for the student and the town. While the Gingerbread House project could not be where is it today without the involvement of community members like Cipolloso, it is also important for the students that they get involved in the community.
Cippolloso's involvement with the Gingerbread House is just one example of the impact that the EAD program has had on students and the community at large.
The program is taught by John Bell, and is designed to introduce students to basic concepts of design and allow them to acquire skills necessary to move on to bigger things in the fields of engineering and architecture. Bell notes that it has the added benefit of allowing students to use their skills to help out in the community.
"A lot of what we do are community projects," says Bell, citing help they provided to the Lifesprings project providing housing for elderly residents in Poland and work they are currently conducting on the Alan Day Community Garden on Whitman Street in Norway. He wants to do even more, but says he has sometimes had a hard time getting people to contact him. In fact, he was the one responsible for contacting the Gingerbread House task force.
This year is Cipolloso's third in EAD. He has been involved with the Gingerbread House since taking over the design project from a departing senior last year.
"At the beginning of the year I got measurements and started from the bottom up," he said. "Once I got the measurements, I really just had to put them in the computer." To do the last part, he used a couple of different Computer Assisted Design programs that he learned through EAD. He estimates that, after sizing up the house, the project took him two and a half weeks.
Cippolloso is naturally artistic. He creates computer animation for his other classes. He has also played the alto saxophone and been involved with the school's jazz band for several years. He says the creativity and ability to see things in the big picture involved in designing buildings are what makes it interesting for him. He describes this as the the factor that led him to choose this program over others such as robotics that involve making things on a smaller scale.
"I do like building, but I kind of got turned off when they said they were starting, making small pieces," he said. "I didn't feel like building small pieces. I felt like putting together a whole thing and in CAD we were building houses and bridges, using our own minds to build different kinds of things. I felt it was more creative."
Nonetheless, he may not have become interested in the architecture and engineering if not for the program at Oxford Hills. Bell cites the fact that the technical school is in the same building as the rest of the high school, next door to math and science classes, as one of its greatest strengths. It allows students to become involved without having to sacrifice other classes, and makes its programs more accessible to the student body.
Cippolloso can testify to this. When he started in EAD as a sophomore, both of his parents were employed at the school and he would have had no way to transport himself to another building for the sake of trying it out.
"I didn't have my driver's license until this year, and I wouldn't have been able to get a ride, so I wouldn't have been involved unless it was a short walk away," he explains."
If it wasn't for the program here, I wouldn't be as interested in architecture and engineering," he says. "But since the program is here, I've grown to like it."
Bell and the EAD program will continue looking for projects with which they can help. Currently, they are mapping the Alan Day Community Garden, building a footbridge there, aiding the French Club with a fundraiser, and constructing a layout of the rear parking area at Oxford Hills High School to allow them to maintain their new bio-mass furnace. In the future, they are hoping to be a resource for even more projects like the Gingerbread House.
As for Cipolloso, he says that his participation in the program is a natural extension of his personality.
"We've basically been helping each other out, mowing lawns, working in the community," he says. "Helping the community is what I've been doing for most of my life."