The community of Derbywood has a new entrance thanks to several students at Polytech High School.

    The community of Derbywood has a new entrance thanks to several students at Polytech High School.

    Homeowner Kathy Szramka said they decided their old peeling signs needed to be replaced after some community members felt embarrassed by them. Since the Upper King Road neighborhood, located south of Camden, doesn’t have a neighborhood association, approximately 30 people donated money.

    “It went from I’ll touch up the [existing] sign to doing brick,” she said of the project’s growth and her involvement. Derbywood residents wanted some-
thing more elegant.

    In order to keep costs down, they contacted Polytech High School’s masonry department to have them build the brickwork at a reasonable cost. In fact, the brick ended up costing less than their new Derbywood sign that the students also hung.

    Compared to the confusing and drawn out permit process, Polytech’s involvement was great, Szramka said.

    “All the neighbors are like, ‘It looks so much better,’” she said of the new entrance.

    The students said it was the biggest project they’ve worked on to date and the hardest part was setting up the heavy brick posts in the cold weather. Tenth-grader Nathan Hill said the whole project took three to four weeks from start to finish.

    He and his twin Jesse Hill built a bionic arm with extendable legs for their dad’s trailer specifically to move the 800- or 900-pound posts. They brought it in three pieces.

    Szramka said the students, who she described as very respectful, dug the hole just before Christmas break in rainy, cold conditions, putting in the posts themselves after their break.

    Dylan Freese, an 11th-grader, said projects like these are a good way for them to get experience.

    “Plus, it’s a chance to get out of the shop,” he added.

    Stephen Parsons, a 10th-grader, agreed that they are still learning masonry skills.

    Polytech masonry instructor Tom Pleasanton said there are approximately 30 students in the three-year masonry program and they work semi-supervised on small jobs.

    “We don’t want to compete with regular contractors,” he said, because they rely on them to employ their graduates.

    And their main goal is to keep their customers happy, even though the students aren’t necessarily as skilled as regular contractors, Pleasanton said.

    “If they are happy with it, then I’m happy,” he said.

    And according to Szramka, the residents of Derbywood are thrilled, which is why she wanted to honor the students for their hard work.

    “A lot of the neighbors want to look into the brick mailboxes [they also make], so we even drummed up some business for them,” Szramka added.

   Email Jayne Gest at