The buzzing sound of electric lathes echoes off the walls of the industrial arts classroom at Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School. Inside, students are taking scraps of discarded wood and creating keepsakes.
Students attending summer session are not only catching up on credits, but they are also learning a skill called woodturning, which is a form of woodworking. Members of the Nor-Cal Woodturners chapter are volunteering their time and equipment to teach students the craft. The volunteers provide the lathes, tools, and materials at no cost to the students. Much of the wood is scrap, some of it retrieved from landfills.
“The kids love this but we also love it,” said Ted Young, president of the Nor-Cal Woodturners. “It’s great to work with these young people and teach them this skill.”
The volunteers have been working with Palmiter students every Friday in July as part of a special incentive program for students attending summer school. Students who perform well in school, are well behaved, and have good attendance, are allowed to participate in the woodturning class on Fridays.
“These types of programs really keep our kids engaged. They’re focused on making something with their own hands and they take pride in that,” said Palmiter Principal Lauren Roth.
The program allows students to have contact with positive, enthusiastic mentors. The students benefit by acquiring new skills and interests that are useful beyond the classroom. Participating students have fun while learning.
“This has just been awesome!” said Palmiter student James Allen. “We get to make cool things out of wood. I didn’t know you could make pens out of wood!”
The students participating in the program attend Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School. The school provides education to special needs students with the primary disability of Emotional Disturbance (ED) in grades 7-12. The students are referred directly from the local school districts of Sacramento County that are unable to provide the more highly structured behavioral support program available at Palmiter. Students are provided a standards-based educational program that is supported by a strong vocational/transitional/school-to-world emphasis.