Jeffrey Alvarado, a Central Texas College student, helps Nayelis Torres, left, and Ameria Williams, middle, build a structure out of cans for a contest Thursday at Maxdale Elementary School.

By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald

Students from Central Texas College and Maxdale Elementary School in Killeen partnered to show others how a “can”-do spirit helps the community.

Members of the college’s chapter of Students In Free Enterprise worked with Maxdale’s fourth- and fifth-grade students to build structures out of canned goods, raising about 7,400 pounds of food for a local pantry.

“It’s been great to get together with these young kids, and work on a service project,” said Roman San Nicolas, a member of the organization and an aviation science student at CTC. “It’s been really fun for both groups.”

Students In Free Enterprise is an organization whose mission is to foster free-market economic education through various programs, according to the college’s website. At Maxdale, the group got local businesses to donate money for the project, which was used to buy more than 7,000 cans for the students’ building materials.

“Service is a very important part of what we do,” said Clark Madsen, an organization member who managed the project. “We wanted to help energize these kids to help others.”

Nine Maxdale classes competed against each other, building “CAN-struction” projects that included everything from the Alamo to a volcano of red soda cans.

“It’s challenging,” said Davion Redman, a Maxdale fifth-grader. “They fall a lot, so you can’t rush.”

The students spent three days building their projects, which were judged on Friday.

The students were restricted to a 4-foot cube of space. Redman said he and his peers came up with detailed drawings for their structures, and used math and other skills to help them complete their structures.

“We know how to make sure everything fits,” said Redman. “It’s stuff we learned in class, and it’s helping us.”

Brandy Stanton, a fifth-grade teacher at Maxdale, said the project gave her students a chance to put what they learn into practice.

“It gives them the chance to see how those ideas actually work,” said Stanton. “They can see it and feel it as they put (the structures) together.”

Earlier this year, the Students In Free Enterprise helped Maxdale collect more than 4,000 pounds of food, which also was donated to the Killeen Food Care Center.

“It feels good to help,” said Redman. “Some people don’t have the things we have, so we need to help them.”

San Nicolas agreed with Redman, and said he was happy that the organization could play a role in helping youth serve their community.

“I think the best way to improve things is to start with the youth,” said San Nicolas. “If they learn about service young, it will stay with them when they get older, and will become second nature to them.”

Model-T takes top honors

A classic vehicle of America’s past came out in front of an iconic American structure and a ubiquitous digital gaming character.

A team of judges decided Friday on a canned good structure of a Model-T Ford for first prize in a “CAN-struction” competition at Maxdale Elementary School.

Second place went to a model of the Twin Towers and third place went to a red Angry Bird character.

The winning team was Tamara Ford’s fourth-grade class. She said students decided on a project that identified them as Ford’s students and as model students.

“They did a good job,” Ford said following the big announcement. “They had to change their blueprint around and make modifications during construction.”

“We used a lot of teamwork,” said fourth-grader Charisma Taylor, one of Ford’s students. “It was hard putting the cans close together and trying to make the motor.”

The Model-T included a windshield of paper and tape and a large backdrop showing a painted country lane.

“It was my first time to do this and I think it turned out pretty good,” said fourth-grader Jensen Rodriguez, also on the winning team.