Students raise money with woodworking

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/10/28/4012892/hit-by-funding-cuts-casa-roble.html
Hit by funding cuts, Casa Roble wood shop classes get creative
By Diana Lambert
Published: Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
For sale: Adirondack chairs and ottomans painted to order, custom lecterns and large backyard sheds handmade by high school wood shop classes short on cash.
The students at Casa Roble Fundamental High School in Orangevale no longer make chess sets, bookends and breadboxes to present to admiring parents. Instead, the advanced wood shop students are cranking up the volume – offering a catalogue of high-end products at reduced prices.
"With all the budget cuts, there is not a lot of money to fund programs like this," said shop teacher Rob Leever. "You have to be creative."
Before the recession, materials for projects were paid for by parent donations and by selling sheds built by students.
But the poor economy has made it difficult for families to afford to donate and for Leever to find buyers for the sheds. So now students are selling their wares so they can afford to make more, and sometimes keep a few.
"It's amazing," said Robin Guillot, a junior in Leever's advanced class. "You spend nine weeks on a project and you sell it to someone else. I can't believe I can do that."
Purchasers write two checks – one to the school for materials and the balance to the student.
Casa Roble's wood shop is bucking a gloomy trend. State education cuts have eliminated many shop classes throughout the region, including in San Juan Unified where the district cut a class of auto shop at Rio Americano, a class of wood shop at Mira Loma and a class of culinary arts at Bella Vista. Often classes that have faltering enrollment are targeted for cuts, said Trent Allen, district spokesman.
"The classes are filled to the gills with kids waiting to get it," said Casa Roble Principal Jim Shoemake of the school's wood shop program. He credits Leever for its popularity, saying the teacher adjusts the curriculum as needed to fit the students in his classes.
Last month Leever created a brochure to advertise the students' handiwork and also placed an advertisement on Craigslist. San Juan Unified staff filmed a video to promote the marketing effort online.
Buyers are starting to come forward.
Casa Roble senior Drew Himenes has had a hard time hanging onto his Adirondack chair. Himenes modified the design used by the rest of his classmates – adding a pull-out ottoman and cup holder.
At least one customer set her sights on the creation. "She saw his chair and she freaked out," Leever said. But she lost out to Himenes' mom, who decided the chair was too good to lose. She will pay $70 to cover the materials.
But Leever would have given it to Himenes for free if need be. "How do you tell kids no?" he asked.
Families aren't asked to pay for materials, but they are asked for donations, Shoemake said. "If we're doing really neat things, parents want to participate," he said. "They see the value."
Parents also support the program by donating time at a local bingo parlor – earning $10 an hour for the class. The Parent Teacher Student Association contributes cash.
The donations became particularly important after the program lost its "bake sale." Before 2008, the program sold a dozen sheds every year – netting about $6,000 annually. In 2009 the class could sell only seven.
One of the five left over from that year is still not sold. This year the class plans to build only two sheds unless demand increases.
"I knew we had to do something else," Leever said. That's when he decided to sign up for a summer class to learn to build electric guitars.
His students have built 80 guitars since that summer less than two years ago. But the kids aren't selling them, despite the fact the electronics package costs them $80. Instead many of them are learning to play, sometimes jamming in the shop at lunchtime.
The guitars haven't brought in any money, but they have made the program even more popular. "Guitars are a sexy project," Shoemake said.
Alex Chorn has taken four wood shop classes since he began at Casa Roble. The senior says he'll squeeze in a fifth before he graduates. The honors student already has made an Adirondack chair for the family yard, a cherry wood desk for his room and a guitar, among other things.
Shoemake said students like Chorn, who move easily between Advanced Placement classes and wood shop, are common in the Casa Roble program.
Wood shop teaches students about the relevance of math to building, as well as about hard work and perseverance, he said.
But second-year wood shop student Wesley Ralph has his own reasons for loving the program: "I don't do sports. I'm terrible in art. I found out I have a talent for wood shop. Its one of the few classes I look forward to in the day."
WANT TO BUY SOMETHING?
Go to http://www.sanjuan.edu/news.cfm?story 204 to learn more about the items being sold by the woodshop students of Casa Roble High School.
PHOTO CAPTIONS:
Jeremy Tanforan, 15, works this week on a guitar he's making in wood shop at Casa Roble High in Orangevale. Shop classes have been hard hit by funding cuts, and the Casa Roble program, teacher Rob Leever says, has been forced to get creative. Instead of traditional projects such as bookends, the classes craft items such as Adirondack chairs and offer them for sale.
In less than two years students like Rochelle Miskanis, above, have built 80 guitars at Casa Roble. The guitars, which the students keep, have drawn kids to the program.
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"DGDevin" wrote:

----------------------------------- Glad to see that Yankee ingenuity is still alive and well.
Lew
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"Lew Hodgett" wrote in message
"DGDevin" wrote:

I was surprised to learn there are still schools with shop classes, I thought that sort of thing was history.
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"DGDevin" wrote:

-------------------------------------- Here in SoCal, Cerritos College has an extensive WW program at the community college level.
Lew
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On Tue, 8 Nov 2011 11:43:06 -0800, "Lew Hodgett"

When I hear the phrase "shop classes" it makes me think of high school, grades 7-9. At least, that's the way it was when I attended high school.
The colleges that are around now, at least the ones I'm familiar with in Toronto, have similar extensive woodworking programs, but I wouldn't refer to them as 'shop classes'. Now, they're conduits to a profession and a source of living. Much more than a 'shop class'.
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Yes, San Jose City College used to have quite a respectable Industrial Arts department and I was neighbors with one of their woodworking instructors and learned a few good things from him.
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"Lew Hodgett" wrote in message
"DGDevin" wrote:

I was thinking of public grade schools, I was under the impression they had mostly dropped shop for liability reasons. That's a big mistake IMO, a lot of people will be happier going into a trade than going to college. Besides, where are high school kids going to get fake ID if there is no graphic arts dept. in shop class? I suppose they do that sort of thing on their home computers now....
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