Measure twice, cut once.
The third Saturday in May, I got up early and went to school: the outdoor area between the Port Aransas High School and the H.G. Olsen Elementary School cafeteria, to be precise. It was the site of the annual high school shop class fundraiser sale. I had gone last year but got there late and by then, all the goodies were gone. I wasn’t going to miss out this year.
Shop class instructor Randell Butler took a few minutes from setting up the display to fill me in. The proceeds from this sale go directly to the students. It helps to fund their shop projects and to pay for field trips to Del Mar College, industrial colleges and even a truck manufacturer in San Antonio.
For sale this year were chairs and tables, benches, cookers and yard sprinklers. I had my eye on a chair. I like to think of these as Island-style Adirondack chairs. I was especially delighted to learn that this year, the hardwood chairs were not only an exercise in furniture construction; they were to teach the principles of reuse/recycle. The wood used to make them had been salvaged from the bleachers that were demolished when the high school gym got remodeled. (That got me reminiscing about the furniture that my late husband had built from pine shelving he scored when Corpus Christi’s downtown Joos Shoes closed. He was almost as proud of that coup as he was of the furniture.)
I decided to splurge on a table, too. Since the table was made of treated wood, I could use it outdoors. It was sturdy and substantial enough to stand up to the winds that gust through my yard.
The yard sprinklers were made of copper tubing and built to plumbing codes. The tubing was welded together and furnished with a hookup for a garden hose. Water can circulate through the tubing and squirt out the holes drilled in the top. The sprinklers’ shape was such that the construction could easily be dragged around the yard.
The welding students love to eat and love to make cookers. Each student made two. Some even made cookers to donate to Relay for Life for their fundraisers.
A truly striking creation was the Big Marlin Cooker. This was a joint class project, started by the outgoing seniors and completed by the incoming welding students. Not only was this big and black with several cooking chambers, it was decorated with a metal cutout of a marlin silhouette, giving a nod to the school’s Marlin basketball teams. Beth Owens of Deep Sea Headquarters and Fins Restaurant and Grill made a generous donation to the school and got dibs on this impressive piece of work, with an eye to giving it to her husband for his birthday.
I got a sneak peak at another “classified” project that was near and dear to the student’s hearts. It will be unveiled in a few weeks.
The construction projects are a great way for the students to learn academic subjects by applying them. For example, they have to master math in order to be able to lay out a project and to measure and cut accurately. This year students also learned something about “green construction.” Randell Butler got a certificate in the subject so that he could teach the principles of building with less waste.
Shop students can get a transcript of credits they can use for college electives. They can also earn a certificate from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. That makes them especially attractive to prospective employers.
The sale usually runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for one day only. Plan to go next year and, caveat emptor, get there early. This is a popular sale and the items go fast. I’ll see you there.