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WVU Parkersburg welding program and Parkersburg Art Center partner for outdoor classroom project

Students in West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s welding program recently had an opportunity to use their hands-on instruction and experience to help create a decorative exterior wall for an outdoor classroom project with the Parkersburg Art Center. The outdoor learning space will be used for art programs and serve as an event venue when it opens later this spring.

The wall, comprised of 8-by-5 feet steel panels, features a giant Brachiosaurus, nicknamed “PACCYosaurus,” who will preside over the outdoor classroom space where children and creativity will be nurtured. Parkersburg Art Center artistic director, Abby Hayhurst, created the design for the wall, which was then graphed onto the metal panels by Parkersburg Art Center staff.

The college’s welding program students – under the supervision of welding instructor Joe Hunt – used plasma cutters to make the design on each of the panels at WVU Parkersburg’s Applied Technology Center.

“We are honored to partner with the Parkersburg Art Center on this project,” said Joe Hunt, assistant professor of welding, WVU Parkersburg. “In addition to being a great hands-on learning opportunity for students in our welding program, we are excited to contribute to this one-of-a-kind space that will be a wonderful asset to downtown Parkersburg and our entire community.”

Following the installation of the panels by Phoenix Associates, Inc., the welding students will buff the wall as part of the final step in the wall project.

“Joe Hunt and his students have been so very helpful,” said Jessie Siefert, managing director, Parkersburg Art Center. “Joe understood what we wanted to do and guided us throughout the process. He helped us understand the properties of this metal, how it will wear, the stress it can withstand, and how it can be shaped into the image we want. I am very thankful that we made this connection. I am so excited for the students who helped carve these panels to see the final project installed.”

The Parkersburg Art Center will use the outdoor classroom for its annual summer camp, Camp Creativity, and throughout the year by the ArtStart Preschool Program.

“The ArtStart Preschool teachers are the most excited about this project,” said Siefert. “We have a wonderful indoor activity space, but children need to get outside, breathe fresh air, run, shout, dig in the dirt, and plant a garden. These are all great things, but they get a little messy.”

A grand opening for the outdoor classroom is being planned for late spring.

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