Jeff Farthing, with his wife, Julie (far right), hosted a celebration to mark the completion of the construction of their barn, built by Logan Elm students (standing, left) in Gary Mitchel’s Industrial Art class.

On a blueprint or in conversation, it’s a barn. But students in Gary Mitchel’s Industrial Arts class at Logan Elm High School are building community.

Gary’s students spent eight months building the 32-by-48-foot barn on Old Tarlton Pike. It has a 48-by-10-foot lean-to on the back and a 15-by-10-foot lean-to on the front. Gary and his students – with help from bus driver Bill Harrington and Pickaway-Ross teacher Todd Jean — also poured the concrete and wired the electrical.

Homeowners Jeff and Julie Farthing have lived in the house for seven years and knew they wanted to add a barn for Jeff’s workshop and for storage on land where some old buildings had been taken down.

“We were familiar with the program at Logan Elm and so I just went out and talked with Gary,” said Jeff, president of The Savings Bank.

Gary’s class is a collaboration between Logan Elm and Pickaway-Ross, serving as a pipeline for many students to pursue the trades at the career center.

Freshmen Austin Lowe and Isaiah Scurlock said working on the barn was a learning experience. Both plan to take Gary’s class as sophomores and Austin would like to attend Pickaway-Ross’ Diesel & Heavy Truck Mechanics program as a junior.

Pole barns built through Gary’s class — this is the 21st project completed — are in demand and there is often a waiting list.

Luckily for the Farthings, the customer scheduled for this year cancelled. “We were fortunate enough to be the next one up,” Jeff said. “We were prepared to wait two or three years.”

During a celebration Sunday to show off the barn to students’ family and community members, Gary spoke highly of the young men’s work ethic and willingness to learn.

While the class is open to all high school students, this project crew was made up predominantly of ninth- and tenth-graders.

“The boys did a great job of maturing and understanding what it was going to take to accomplish our goal,” Gary said.

“They absolutely did above and beyond what we expected,” Jeff said, praising the students for the quality of their work.

Gary also was appreciative of Jeff and Julie, who were generous to the boys with Friday snacks, baked goods on cold mornings and gifts.

“We tried throughout the whole project to do different things,” Jeff said. “Taking them to BW3, having a pizza party, giving them Pumpkin Show money, giving Christmas gifts. We really tried to reward them and show that we were grateful for the work they were putting in.”

Julie said the rewards were a way of recognizing them as other students are recognized for sports or academics.

“These kids, what they're doing is just as important and we wanted them to know that we appreciated what they were doing. What they were doing was special and they deserved to be recognized and rewarded for what they did,” she said.

The Farthings presented each student with a drill and drill bit set at the celebration.

“You hope that (this project) teaches them skills that they can carry on and they (learn to be) responsible. They're responsible for going to work, they're responsible for going to school. What they do will come back as an impactful thing in a community,” Jeff said.