MILLERSBURG – The West Holmes Building and Trades program has embarked on a project that will not only serve the 14 sophomores in the class, but will also benefit the Holmes County community in the long run. This is what building and trades instructor Dave McMillen calls a win-win situation.
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When McMillen heard about the new building being constructed to house the Holmes Center for the Arts, he asked what he could do to help, and the HCA called on McMillen’s program to build four wooden art tables for one of the classrooms.
McMillen said the project is a way to connect students with industry in the community.
âThere is a constant balance between design and functionality, look, durability and the ability to complete a project like this with the students,â McMillen said. âBut these kids really embraced this project and owned it.
âA project like this is perfect, connecting students to industry. It’s a win-win,â added the instructor. âYou connect the students to the local industry and the students to the community. And you connect students to future jobs. “
The executive director of the Holmes Center for the Arts visited the class at the start of the school year
Holley Johnson, Executive Director of HCA, and Cathie Lynch, Director of Community Outreach, visited the building and trades class at the start of the school year to describe the type of tables they were looking for, and the students turned to put to work to design them.
âWe first made dimensional plans to scale so that we knew how much lumber would be needed,â said Evan Sheldon.
“We sketched the design of the tables and then made scale models,” added Zaylie Shultz. “Then we put together a project proposal, indicating what we are doing and what the materials will be used for.”
After developing their plan, the students contacted businesses in the community to solicit donations of materials needed for the success of their project.
Several Holmes County businesses donated equipment to the project
Yoder Lumber, Carter Custom Mill, and Trico Enterprises all responded and donated the wood for the tables. Woodrite Quality Finishes will donate the finishes for the tables and Holmes Lumber is donating the casters for the table legs.
âWe use white oak and walnut,â McMillen said. “We wanted to make sure it was something from Holmes County.”
He noted that white oak is difficult to work with because it is full of knots, so they will need an epoxy top to make the surface smooth.
âGoing through the process from the first table, we have to figure out what the process is and what we need to do to accomplish it,â McMillen said. âWe’ve learned a lot already. We’ve got the table top and our next step is to sand it down smoothly. Then we need to build the shelves. By the time we get to the fourth table, these guys should all be pretty self-sufficient. “
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McMillen said he hopes the first table will be completed by the end of October and all four tables will be completed around Christmas and ready for delivery to the HCA, which appears to be under roof by the New Year.
Johnson said she was extremely grateful for the gracious gift from the West Holmes Building and Trades program.
“We are very grateful to the West Holmes Building and Trades class for their support of our art program with such a generous donation of their time and skills in the design and construction of tables for the HCA Art Room,” said Johnson said. âWe love to see people – especially children – learning to use their gifts and abilities to help others and we are so grateful that we decided to do just that for the arts center.
âThe tables they build will be such an important tool in our art room and will impact generations to come in our community,â she added.
Lynch, a retired West Holmes District art teacher, said she also appreciates the generosity of the building and trades program.
âI am more than grateful to Dave McMillen and the building and trades students for the way they embraced this project,â she said. âIt means a lot to me that these tables are made by students from West Holmes, the area I retired from.
“I look forward to using them for my classes at the arts center, and I know they will be used for years to come – a tribute to these students, as well as the local businesses whose donations have made this possible.” , added Lynch.
A gift for generations to come
McMillen also noted that in years, students will be able to show their children who might be involved in a Holmes Center for the Arts program the tables they helped build.
âThis deferred gratification is special,â he said. “They’ll be able to think how much it took them months to complete this project, but they did. And it feels good.”
McMillen highlighted the future benefits the program offers to meet the needs of the workforce.
âYou have huge labor shortages, and there are a lot of factors that come into play,â he said. “With the juniors and seniors in high school, they will usually be looking for something close to home, which also happens to be the tax base of local schools.”