Woodshop program allows students to reach out

First Posted: 5/13/2014

Dallas High School students have begun creating customized projects for the community through the school’s industrial arts department. From trophy display cases to unique clocks, students are using state-of-the-art technology to learn more about the craft and to help others.

Prototyping instructor Mark Golden, 27, of Dimock, said the program started once the new school building opened in 2011. Before that, Golden said there wasn’t a woodshop program at the school for 12 years.

To honor the program’s past, Golden created a plaque in memoriam of former woodshop instructor and school board member Gary Mathers, who passed away in 2012. One senior was inspired by the project.

Domenic Oliveri, 18, of Trucksville, created a plaque in memory of his friend, Jason Schilling, a Dallas baseball player who died in a car accident in December 2012.

“I saw the plaque of Mr. Mathers,” said Oliveri. “It was (great) to be able to do it for one of my buddies.”

The plaque features a laser-engraved image of Schilling with a smile on his face. Oliveri said that’s something people remember about him – he was always smiling.

“I met Jason when I was a sophomore – it was my first year on the high school baseball team,” said Oliveri. “We really pushed ourselves, it was always a battle. I looked up to him.”

The plaque will be revealed to the public at the Jason Schilling Memorial Home Run Derby at noon today at the Dallas High School baseball field.

Students in Golden’s prototyping classes are also using their skills to help nonprofit groups in the area.

Eric Davies, 16, of Dallas is applying his woodworking techniques to create a new sign for Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge in Orange as part of his Eagle Scout project for Pack 281.

“My mom found out about Blue Chip on Facebook, and we got in touch with them and took a tour,” said Davies. “Their current sign is dark and small, so I wanted to build them a new sign.”

Davies said the most difficult part of woodworking is trying to make the project perfect. It’s not impossible, though – the new machines at Dallas use computer programs to help make cutting, engraving and other embellishments more precise and in less time than woodshop tools of the past.

“In high school and in college, I didn’t have any of this,” said Golden.

Much of the work is done on computers before any real woodwork can begin. Golden said the computer numerical control (CNC) router and laser engraver have computer programs that can be time-consuming, depending on the project.

But the machines allow for more accurate cutting and more professional-looking projects. Golden believes students can create projects for the community that can rival that of any professional company, save local businesses and nonprofits money and build students’ skills and confidence.

Golden said businesses and nonprofits will be responsible for the cost of materials, and they can choose to make a donation to the industrial arts program, as well.

“We just want to help as many people as possible,” said Golden.

The class is built in a way that more projects won’t interfere with school work. After students are finished working on mandatory class projects, they have about a month at the end of the year to work on whatever they’d like.

Some students choose to make projects for themselves, such as a gun cabinet or desk, and other projects are requested by the school, like new name plaques for school board members or a trophy case for Wycallis Elementary.

“When school board members change, they need to get new plaques,” said Golden. “When they do, they might not look the same because it might be from a different company. This way we can keep them the same.”

The class can be a way for students to take a break from the books. Golden said he took woodshop in high school because he wasn’t a “lecture learne,” and it helped to decide his future career.

“I like the process of seeing the change,” he said. “You see the tree in the forest change into something you built.”

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