Cleveland Students Carve up Wood Shop Class

By Ellie Mortenson and Isabella Donofrio

The smell of wood chips fills the air as students work hard to finish their various projects, emerging themselves in their hands on work.

The new wood shop class at Cleveland has just come back this year, and is now available for students in every grade to take. It used to be an option, but was taken away due to lack of funding. “We, as an admin team wanted to get a program like this back for years but there has not been the FTE or the funds to do it until this year,” said Kevin Taylor, Cleveland vice principal.

It has received plenty of positive feedback from students. “[Wood shop is] by far my favorite class because you have so much freedom, and Mr. Barnes is super funny. The class just has a good atmosphere overall. Also, you don’t have to have any experience. I walked in not knowing nails from screws and now I’ve made a whole picture frame,” said sophomore Sophie Dibble.

The class is taught by Brian Barnes, who is excited to teach students important life skills, such as general house maintenance. He hopes to give students who don’t plan on going to college as well as college-bound students the skills they need to acquire a high-paying job that doesn’t require a degree. It’s also a way for students to be creative through a different type of artistic medium. “This is a good way for students to express themselves with power tools and wood, instead of things like paintbrushes,” Barnes said.

The program started with 180 students and currently has around 150.

Students also enjoy the break from sitting at their desks. Sophomore Sydney Toops said, “I enjoy the class because it gives me time to work and have hands-on activities. That’s how we learn best, and I think every school should have [wood shop] because it gives us life lesson skills that we will use forever. [It’s] useful in the real world.”

In wood shop, you are able to work on anything your heart desires, no matter how simple or difficult. “Every student is producing a project they have designed themselves. Some are working on small projects, such as, cutting boards, picture frames, jewelry boxes, etc. Other students are working on much more complex projects, such as splayed segmented wooden bowls, chess boards tables, chairs, and cabinets,” said Barnes.

Wood shop is a growing elective for students of all skill levels. Right now there is a beginning Woods 1 class and Play Production, and Barnes says that next year, they hope to add a more advanced furniture and cabinetry class. Barnes hopes that the following year, they will add a third level course that focuses on construction. “These students will have the opportunity to build a structure, such as a house, somewhere in Portland,” Barnes added.