For years, Taylor Electric Cooperative has sponsored Hawley High School on a range of activities and projects, including efficiency upgrades on scoreboards, scholarships and teacher appreciation lunches.

So when the Merkel, Texas, co-op contacted Keith Porter, an agricultural science and metal fabrication teacher at the Hawley, Texas, school for help with two signs, he jumped at the chance.

“Any time I can get the kids to see the real-life benefits of what they do in class, I’ll do it,” said Porter, adding that the project was a way to repay the co-op’s past generosity.

With Porter’s guidance over a 10-day period, students cut pieces for a metal logo and lettering and drilled rods to attach the pieces on a 9-foot-by-12-foot corrugated metal sign for the driveway of the co-op’s district office in Abilene. A smaller sign for the lobby was completed a year ago.

The entrance sign is the crowning touch on a yearlong renovation at the co-op’s district office. Included in the redo of the office’s landscape was a circular drive with the sign and logo.

“The sign at the entrance helps distinguish the driveway off the frontage road,” said Elizabeth McVey, the co-op’s public relations and communications manager. “Before, we had a sign up on the building and it was easy to miss.”

McVey said the co-op is happy to help in students’ professional development. “It’s just something for them to be proud of and put on their school applications and résumés. It’s great real-life experience for them.”

Since the driveway sign’s unveiling took place during a school day, Porter and his students were unable to attend the ceremony. But they did go afterward, and the students appeared truly proud of their achievement, he said.

“It meant more to them seeing it actually displayed than seeing it laying on a table at school,” Porter said. “Half of Abilene will see that sign now.”