One of Joe Calland's first memories of living in New Albany is of the tree house his father had built him in their backyard.

One of Joe Calland's first memories of living in New Albany is of the tree house his father had built him in their backyard.

He said it was a lot like a log cabin on stilts, and all of the neighborhood children wanted to try it out.

"That's how I made all my friends," said Calland, who will start his senior year at New Albany High School on Monday. "They wanted to try out our tree house."

When the time came to choose a project for his NAHS senior seminar, Calland decided he wanted to give other children memories of a tree house -- and learn a little about construction.

For the past two months, he has been researching, designing and building a tree house for children at the Tray Lee Community Center, 1362 Sigsbee Ave.

"I spent so much of my time there (in the tree house), but I also had no idea how my dad did it," said Calland, a varsity football player who just received a perfect score on his SAT. "My senior seminar was the opportunity that I could both learn about my dad's skill set and I could also help other children have the same tree-house experience I did."

Calland, who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, said he initially wanted to build the tree house in the backyard of a newly built Habitat home.

He soon learned that the Tray Lee center is surrounded by more than 10 Habitat homes, and he could serve the entire neighborhood through is project.

He said he worked with an architect and a woodworker to learn how to build the structure, which he constructed in nine days.

The finished tree house features a slide and monkey bars.

"I learned I love woodworking," Calland said. "It was really interesting to me to see that each day when I left, I would look back and see how far I had come. One day it was four posts sticking out of the ground, and the next day there was a deck. It was interesting how it translated into a physical product."

Each day while he worked, Calland said, more and more neighborhood children would gather around the chain-link fence to watch.

"I really had a feeling I was doing something special when I was out there," he said. "I went back to take pictures of kids playing on it for my presentation and to see how it was going. Just watching them play around, they seemed like they were having as much fun as I did on my tree house."

Marie Moreland-Short, a volunteer at the Tray Lee center, said the children love the new tree house.

"Some of them will get up there and sit and get a book," she said. "They play different little games up there. They just enjoy it."

She said the leftover lumber from Calland's project would be used to build benches around his tree house.

Moreland-Short said people like Calland have blessed the community center.

"Joe is just an amazing young man," she said. "He is so dedicated and worked so very, very hard to donate his time and build something of this magnitude. It was such a blessing."