By Mike Anderson

Students from Sutton District High School’s EOP program continue to improve our community brick by brick or, in this case, patio stone by patio stone.

Their latest project was building a new 10×22 foot back patio at the Sutton Legion, which was in dire need of repair. Last year, they built a new 6×6 back fence, replacing an old fence that was damaged by the wind.

While the Legion purchased the materials, in this case through an Ontario Trillium grant, all the labour was provided by students enrolled in the Exploring Opportunities Program (EOP), which offers hands-on training in construction, including landscaping.

Peter Leach, the Legion’s First-Vice President, who’s responsible for the building, says the Legion saved close to $2000 in labour costs.

“We only had a short sidewalk area here, so there was a problem with mud. It was something we wanted to tackle for some time but we didn’t have the funds. We thought about concrete, which is expensive, but the patio stones are an even better solution because there’s somewhere for the water to go,” he said.

“We’re hundred percent happy with the student’s work. They do a great job. And they love working here.”

“It’s good for them. It gives them confidence. They can turn around and say, ‘I’ve done that before.’ In today’s world, you need confidence because it’s hard to get anywhere unless you have that. You’ve got to have confidence when you walk into a job.”

Kaden Charles, Brendon Lepart, Peter Leach & Andrew Allen stand on finished patio
Andrew and Brendon building bench

About half a dozen students completed the back patio in five days, adding a custom bench and several flower boxes to beautify the space.

According to their teachers, even on a smaller project like this, students learn essential skills, like costing out a project, levelling a gravel base, basic carpentry, and measuring volume.

“The goal of our program is to get the students out of the school into real-world applications where we can teach them construction skills and build projects that benefit the community,” said Andrew Schmidt, one of the EOP teachers.

“We love working with the community. And we’re super pleased with the work the students have done. They’re engaged when they have real projects. Look around; they’re not on their cell phones or distracted.”

Tyler Martin, 17, one of the EOP students, agrees.

“It feels good being able to go out and help the community,” said Tyler, who credits the EOP program with helping him decide his career path.

“I didn’t know where I would go with my career, but this program has helped me with that. I understand that now I want to go into carpentry. I really like it a lot.”

Schmidt says the students- about 21 currently enrolled- have worked for several local community organizations, including the Legion and Salvation Army.

They’ve also started doing work for the Town’s Parks Division. Last year, they refurbished the pavilion at North Gwillimbury Park, and soon they will refinish the gazebo in Jackson’s Point Parkette.

Schmit says if a community organization needs work done that it can’t afford to contract out, it should contact the EOP program through the school (905) 722-3281) or email



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here