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May 22, 2013

GHS carpentry elective builds student excitement

GHS elective carpentry course a hit with students

Four cheerful and brand new-looking Adirondack chairs sit in the sun outside Gloucester High School’s Cabinet Design and Innovation shop, with four smiling senior girls busily painting and varnishing them.

They know they’re lucky: They got into this class. Most students can’t.

While the year-long elective class, taught on three levels of difficulty, has been presented at the school for over 50 years, there is a strict 75-student limit for the five-class-per-day, 15-student enrollment total, explains teacher Tim Rose. And every year, more than 200 GHS students request to join the class, he says, with most being turned away because their schedule and the class size limit prevent it.

“I love this,” said senior Brianna Saputo, as she painted her pine chair white, while the other girls chimed in with similar sentiments. “I didn’t think I’d like something like this, but I do,” Saputo said.

She was painting white the wooden chair she built. She and the other four girls are new to learning about carpentry this school year, but they’ve already built shelves and step stools as well.

Rose said a lot of his seniors who try his class in their last year at school wish they’d known about it earlier in their high school careers.

Senior Ian Richards said he’s very excited about using a free Google software program called SketchUp that the class uses to design three-dimensional objects he’s working on, from his shelving to a step stool he already completed. He was playing around with variations on his step stool design. The step stool design is deceptively simple: it utilizes every single machine in the shop, Rose said, so the students learn how to use each one in turn.

The well-appointed, spacious shop has computers, many kinds of woodworking machinery, is full of natural light and room to spread out and work on projects large and small. Wooden furniture pieces are scattered all around the shop - from grandfather clocks and coffee tables to an oak baseball bat in progress on a lathe. Once completed, the bat will be used at an upcoming varsity baseball game, Rose said.

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