The lesson: Continue to build a sense of school community while developing fine motor skills by designing and creating structures with construction blocks.

The lesson: Continue to build a sense of school community while developing fine motor skills by designing and creating structures with construction blocks.

The Helman Elementary School bell rings. It's Friday afternoon. While some students are off to start their weekends, more than 75 students are headed to the cafeteria.

Every Friday this winter, from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m., the Dragon Lego Club has met to design, create and build with interlocking plastic building bricks. Club members are greeted at the door by Principal Susan Hollandsworth, a fellow Lego lover.

The students then step into the cafeteria, which has been transformed into an organized design studio. They quickly set up, then start to trade and search through more than 60 tubs of extra pieces, looking for inspiration or the perfect piece to complete a building or scene.

There was much excitement on a recent Friday when Ian Wurfl, a senior at Ashland High School, donated his sizable collection of Lego pieces, as he said, "to pass on the love."

Next, students began designing, building, testing and discussing their projects. "It's surprising," says third-grader Zoe Heesacker. "You think these are boring. But it's amazing what you can build."

Forts, spacecraft, futuristic homes, creatures, cars, motorcycles and endless other creative possibilities rise and fall during the hour, all beginning with a single colorful piece.

Three years ago, Sam Wimmer, Ethan Page and Gabriel Neimark, who are now sixth-graders, proposed the idea of the club to Hollandsworth. Today, with the help of PTO supporters, school Office Manager Malinda Wood and Hollandsworth, students are eager to continue to learn after the closing bell.

— Heidi Monjure