COLUMBUS — The final semester for a group of Columbus High School seniors in Marcus Gillespie’s construction technology class wasn’t a coast to the finish line.

The students were at a construction site, getting first-hand experience swinging hammers, raising walls and installing shingles.

The senior woodworking class spent the final months finishing its most-ambitious project — a two-story, 1,400-square-foot garage with a loft for Tracy and Jane Dodson behind their home at 4810 Country Club Drive.

Gillespie’s second-semester class of 13 students took over the yearlong project in January following Christmas break. The first-semester group, made up of a dozen students, started the project in the fall and continued until breaking for the holidays.

It was by far the largest construction project the STEM Academy woodworking classes have undertaken.

“We’ve always done smaller buildings, usually 400 to 500 square feet,” Gillespie said. “This is huge.”

Work is virtually complete on the three-car garage.

“There’s a little siding to put up (and odds and ends finishing touches), but not a whole lot left,” Gillespie said.

The Dodsons hosted a barbecue luncheon Thursday for the construction tech students and their families to celebrate the project's completion.

“I’m really proud of these kids,” said Tracy Dodson, who paid for the garage’s materials and donated $500 to Columbus Public Schools to help with construction costs. Dodson is a manufacturing teacher at Columbus High.

“Thanks, now let’s go eat,” he told the students.

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