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Bench-crafting project
exceeds expectations

Story and Photos By Duane Good, EDITOR



Students in the Metalworking III class also fashioned prototypes for a children's bench and a footstool.

The 2014-15 school year drew to a close with some very good news out of Line Mountain High School:

The wagon-wheel bench project – first reported about in the Sentinel’s Jan. 6 issue – was a success beyond what anyone could have anticipated.

Senior students in the Metalworking III class graduated last week having handcrafted 62 of the wood and iron pieces – 12 more than their original goal.

Of those, 54 were sold (each of the eight students made one for himself), and proceeds from those sales funded the  purchase of two MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welders for the class shop, which was the original objective.

There also was enough extra profit available for teacher Jared Haas to surprise each of the five senior students on their last day in school with a thank you gift – a bag containing a complete set of protective attire for welding: helmet, goggles, safety glasses, gloves and jacket.

According to Haas, it was a reward well earned; the seniors even spent their last regular day before final exams working diligently in the class shop.

‘‘I can’t believe how much dedication the students showed during this whole process, especially the seniors,’’ he said earlier this month. ‘‘Some  of them would be here until 5 or 5:30, almost three hours after school ends for the day, working on them, sometimes up to three nights a week.

‘‘The effort has been fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for any more from the class. It’s been enjoyable for me; probably my most enjoyable thing I’ve done in my time teaching here at Line Mountain.’’

Making it their own. Working off a design found in a book, the Line Mountain students made this project their own, starting with paper layouts; determining what specific materials to use; and ‘‘costing out’’ the materials to keep the work on budget. Students even shopped for the materials as part of the assignment.

Benches intended to remain indoors had oak seating, while those that must withstand outside elements were made with pressure-treated lumber.

In each case, the frame  and wheels were fashioned of iron, with all work done by the students with  no outsourcing. That included the shaping and welding of the stationary wagon-style wheels.

Haas recalls telling his class he hoped they could sell 30 benches, at most.

‘‘We had one at both the fall and spring craft sales which we raffled off, basically to get our name out, but we really didn’t have to advertise at all,” Haas said. ‘‘Every time a student took a bench home, he would come back with three more orders.

‘‘We made 54 for sale and I don’t think it would have been hard to sell 54 more,’’ he added. ‘‘People have asked, called and emailed about them; we simply ran out of time.’’

The school district purchased several benches for a patio area on the secondary-school campus; the high school Class of 1995 also bought one as a memorial to deceased class members. It now sets at the school’s main entrance.

Future inspiration. The 2014-15 class left future students with some inspiration: prototypes for both a footrest and a children’s bench.

‘‘I had mentioned a long time ago that we needed to do a footrest with smaller wheels. They remained that, and when I came back after being out two days, they had the jog for the smaller wheels already made,’’ Haas said.

‘‘We made one footrest, and it turned out pretty well, so we made six more of them – one for myself and five for the students,’’ he added. ‘‘We could have done more, but we ran out of time.

Other ideas that have been discussed include a planter and a end table, both of which would incorporate the wagon-wheel motif, which Haas called ‘‘kind of our thing now’’ and a motif that keeps inspiring new variations on the theme.

‘‘It keeps morphing into something new from where we originally started,’’ he said. ‘‘We have enough ideas to keep us busy.’’

That said, as far as more benches – or any other projects – are concerned, Haas said he’s going to let that up to next school year’s Metalworking III class.

‘‘They’re going to be the ones doing all the work, so I will let them decide,’’ he said. ‘‘They need to be ‘into’ whatever they’re doing.’’

Bench raffle will benefit local student

One of the wagon-wheel benches referenced in the Sentinel’s articles will be raffled later this month. Proceeds will be donated the family of a Line Mountain student who is battling cancer for the second time.

Tickets will be available through Friday, June 19 at a cost of one for $2; three for $5; and seven for $10.

They are available at both Line Mountain’s elementary and secondary schools; Angie’s Market in Trevorton; and Brosius Market in Dalmatia.

The drawing will be Sunday, June 21 and the winner’s name will be posted at all the above locations.