EBEN JUNCTION, Mich. (WJMN) – Earlier this winter, Superior Central School’s industrial technology teacher Jake Cogger was approached by the Swajanen family with an issue they were facing on the land they own that serves as the public access point to the Eben Ice Caves. When the family was unable to find enough outhouses to sustain the number of tourists who visit the caves, it was proposed that one of Cogger’s classes could build two outhouses to be used on the property permanently.
“They’re actually the ones who footed the bill and they’re paying for all the materials,” Cogger said. “We actually have received some donations from local builders and contractors. ABC in Marquette actually gave us all the standing seam metal for free, which has been awesome. So it’s a great way for my students to A) Learn a skill and then B) give back to something that makes Eben Junction special.”
This semester, students in Cogger’s Industrial Tech class are tackling the project together, with plans to conclude and set up the outhouses at the access point in early February. While it’s not always easy to keep on top of a project for over 20 people, Cogger says the class is enjoying the learning process. Students Alan Creamer and Zachary Frusti say that while the facilities and tools available have presented challenges, the chance to give to a special part of their community is meaningful.
“I like being a help to others, and I like giving people stuff, especially if it’s useful,” Creamer said.
“It’s important because we always want to make sure that we’re always connected as a community,” Frusti said. “Just always connected and always giving back to one another.”
As the class continues work on the project, they hope their efforts will help others who use the finished products down the line to appreciate what goes into making the caves a destination in the U.P.
“It’s pretty awesome as a school, the Eben Ice Caves are a five-minute drive from us, to be able to give back,” Cogger said. “I know that the people that actually own the public access, they’re basically doing this out of the graciousness of their heart. And it’s awesome for me to be able to give back to the larger community. And then I would encourage if you do visit the Eben Ice Caves, there’s a little tube there that says ‘give a donation’, I would encourage you to give a donation so that there can be continued public access to the ice caves.”
Local 3 News is planning to be there when the class delivers the finished outhouses and then tour the ice caves.