Photo by Liz Blodgett
Story originally published in the November 2019 edition of The Paw, our quarterly newspaper
Administrators added a yearlong construction class to the list of possible electives to choose from for sophomores, juniors and seniors. “Community Improvements through Construction” has given an outlet for students who prefer the hands-on approach to learning. Math teacher James Swindle is now also teaching the new construction class.
“From bell to bell its hands-on,” Swindle said. “Kids are working with their hands, tools and other things all class period.”
The learning goals of the construction class come in two parts. In the first semester, students learn how to use and be comfortable with the different tools. Then, once the students build their knowledge on how to utilize the different tools, they will start working on larger products they can donate into the community.
“The primary foundation we are teaching is skills; how to use the circular saw, how to use drills,” Swindle said. “By the second semester, we’re really going to start shifting our focus in class on how can we use [our skills] to help the community.”
Students get to take in multiple different experiences in this class from woodworking, hands on math, using different tools and even serving their community.
“This is a unique opportunity,” associate principal Tyler Davila, said. “We have kids down there that are running drills and sanders and all types of other equipment that they maybe wouldn’t have otherwise had the experience to do.”
Giving students the opportunity to have a more well-rounded education, besides learning solely the core subjects taught at school, allows students to gain other important life skills and introduce them to a wider assortment of career paths.
For senior, Jessica Kirkpatrick, who plans on going into the construction industry after high school, this class allows her to build the skills needed for her career path.
“The skills I learned in this class will help me with my career in the future, [but] even if you’re not planning [on going into] construction as a career, the skills you learn in this class are still nice to [know]” Kirkpatrick said.
Many students are taking advantage of the class’s hands-on approach and having a place to express their creativity.
“I’m into building and the ability to express yourself and just have fun with it and be creative,” senior Kamryn Hosley said.
Although the construction class has a creative side to it, Swindle looks at the class through a mathematical lens due to all his past experience as an Algebra and Geometry teacher.
“I come at it with the math angle where if a kid’s are struggling with a certain part of what we just did[…] I’ll come in and show mathematically how to fix it,” Swindle said.
Although Swindle comes in with a math approach, his partner, Bob Pavlukovich, brings the skill and insights of a professional contractor.
“[Pavlukovich] worked in industry for 30 years so he comes to my class every day as a hired employee,” Swindle said. “We’re partners… we kinda bring two different perspectives to the class.”
Pavlukovich, or “Pav” as his students call him, is one of the highlights of the class for Hosley, and many of the other students. When Hosley was asked what his favorite part of the construction class was, he immediately shouted out Pav.
“He is our announcer at the football games; he’s super hilarious,” Hosley said. “It’s fun listening to the guy at the football games and in class while messing around with him.”
The district has funneled resources into the construction program–carving out space in the remodel, purchasing equipment and hiring and training employees.
Davila mentioned that many students and staff can’t wait to see what else comes from our construction class down in south hall.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on down there,” Davila said.