If I were a carpenter ... oh wait, I am

A long, open, garage-like breezeway at South Kitsap High School reverberated with nail-pounding loud enough to overpower the auditory behemoth of exiting teenagers Thursday afternoon.

As the day came to an end, Tim Shaffer’s construction class inched closer to a completed tool shed. A cluster of students standing on the roof nailed down the last few rows of shingles of the house-shaped unit.

Shaffer’s students take on more than your typical high school shop class. This isn’t a spice rack doomed to collect dust in the garage for years to come. It’s a full-sized tool shed, and upon completion it’s headed for the juvenile detention center on Old Clifton Road for the work crews to store their equipment.

“We can draw lots of pictures on the chalk board and make a plan,” Shaffer said. “Probably the best thing is real life, real size measurements and dimensions.”

And that’s what the students get in Shaffer’s class — real experience building real, usable constructions. Typically this class is off on a new plat of property, building a house that will be sold along side professionally built houses.

But this year the construction class is taking some time off to build a few smaller projects and donate a little time to the local juvenile detention center, which paid for the materials, but is getting the construction for free.

“We’re trying to do some things in our shop we normally don’t have time to do,” he said. “We’re going to update our vacuum system for dust in the shop and we’re building some furniture.”

And they’re rethinking the program and planning to expand it.

In future years, a part-time teacher will work with the students building a house with the more experienced students while Shaffer trains up the new ones and dreams up some smaller projects on campus.

“We’re kind of revamping our program and modifying it,” he said. “We want to add some finer woodworking, maybe furniture-making and boat-building.”

But all of it maintains the program’s reputation for practical, useful and educational construction.

The students continue to build useful projects for the district and area organizations. The following morning, another class installed cabinets in the American Sign Language (ASL) classrooms at the school.

Shaffer gushes over the opportunities these students have in the Career and Technical Education Department. Several classes, such as computer science and photography, can offer college credit, but all of them provide real, hands-on learning experiences.

“If you’ve never experienced other things and only taught here, you’d say, ‘Oh well, this is kind of a nice place to be,’” he said. “But if you’ve seen other places and compared that to this, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It really is an incredible facility that has so many elective opportunities for kids.”

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