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Placer woodshop students learn to support community, themselves

Class to produce new toy for Auburn organization
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A Placer High School class is giving back to the community while also teaching students skills for the future. Matt Conley teaches beginning and advanced woodshop at the school and said the classes are the first woodwork experience local students have. He said woodshop teaches students a variety of things. “Basically the bottom line is (it teaches them to be) an informed consumer, good work ethic, the understanding of product development, development of some hand skills, introduction to machinery and current technology being used in woodwork,” Conley said. Every year the class makes doll cradles for the Auburn Area Christmas Basket Program. This is the first year the class is also making toy dump trucks for the organization’s distribution day on Dec. 17. “It’s an opportunity for them to use learning and a skill to give back to the community,” Conley said. The class also works in groups to create high-quality bird houses every year. The houses are then sold for donations at Flower Farm in Loomis and all funds come back to the woodshop program, Conley said. Conley said this project is used to teach quality design through production as well as marketing. The class studies the kind of product a consumer would want to buy and then applies it to the bird houses. Placer High senior Brittney Bowen, 17, said this is her fifth term in woodshop and she has enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the class. “I like the fact that I can make stuff and physically be able to hold it,” Bowen said. “You get a product in the end. (The class) has taught me how to plan out a project before I make it, and it’s taught me all the woodshop skills, and machinery and such.” Bowen said she entered coasters she made in the woodshop youth division at the Gold Country Fair and won first place and best of division. A challenge of the class has also left her with a life skill, Bowen said. “When something goes wrong, you have to figure out how to fix it,” she said. “You can’t just quit the project. You have to be able to problem solve.” Sophomore Cameron Scott, 15, is in his second term in woodshop and said he has always enjoyed making things. Scott said woodshop has taught him to bring a creation to life after thinking about how he wants it to look. He said the class could help him in a potential future construction or landscape career. Scott said he likes the fact that the class works on the Christmas Basket toys. “I think it’s really cool, because we can help people who don’t have stuff at all,” he said. “They can actually play with something, actually get a present.” Junior Colby Saporito, 17, said he likes the class because you get to see a project from beginning to end and it’s not just about answering questions. The class has taught him several things, including that all items have value and that you can’t rush a project, Saporito said. “Patience,” he said. “Putting finish on a project, you have got to wait for it to be done before you do everything.” Woodshop teaches independence and how to turn ideas into something, Saporito said. “Which is kind of a lost thing now,” he said. Conley said he thinks the dump trucks will be a big hit this year. He said he has gotten positive feedback about the cradles in the past. “I will be out and about in the community and I run into people,” he said. “I even run into the guild members who make the blankets for the cradles and they are so happy and like, ‘Wow, it’s nice to meet you.’” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Fun facts about Placer High School woodshop • Has been around since at least the 1950s and some of the machines used still date from that time • This is Matt Conley’s fifth year of teaching the class • There are 86 total students in three classes • Class is open to all grades • Some of the unique items made have been skateboards and free-form clocks • This year the class will produce 50 dump trucks and 20 additional doll cradles to be given out as part of the Auburn Area Christmas Basket Program