CG-B students learn to refinish, reuse trim from renovated middle school
The oak ceiling trim that was in Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School, the former high school, for more than 40 years is getting new life in the high school woodworking shop.
This year, 25 students in two sections of Introduction to Woodworking turned the old wood into new, in some cases brightly colored, beach chairs that the boys and girls said they intend to use.
The wood trim was removed last year when the middle school was renovated and redesigned to create larger learning spaces.PROUD WOODWORKERS Aylin Birlik (left) and Nicole Kluck showed off the beach chairs they made from the old oak trim salvaged from the middle school. Photos by Sam Arendt
“It was (Supt.) Steve Shaw who suggested it. He told me the wood wasn’t being used and asked if I wanted it,” said technical education teacher Fred Nicora, who teaches woodworking.
He decided the wood would be ideal for beginning students. Not only save students’ money and recycle a resource, but also teach techniques for refinishing and repairing furniture.
While most of the students were freshmen or sophomore boys, two senior girls — Nicole Kluck and Aylin Birlik — took the class and made chairs that could get them an A for the course.
The girls put decorative touches and unique paint finishes on their chairs.
“The girls did great. I think both of them came in with a little apprehension because they were clearly outnumbered in the class,” Nicora said. “After they mastered the equipment, they gained confidence and their chairs were some of the better ones. “They brought a unique perspective to the class.”
Kluck, who plans to study screenplay writing in college and had never used a saw or drill before, said she wanted to try something different and heard the class was fun.
“I wanted to make something on my own and be proud of something I did,” she said. “I definitely am proud. It’s going to be my tanning chair.”
Before the students could go into the woodworking shop, they had to learn the names of the various tools, what each is used for and how to use them safely.
“We had to pass a safety quiz before we actually got to go into the shop to make the chair,” Kluck said.
Next semester, she plans to make a stool from new wood in the cabinetry class, getting experience with both types of wood.
There is enough old oak left for several more introductory classes, Nicora said.
“The quality of the oak is very nice and it has excellent grain patterns. They would have had to pay at least $30 for it (if it was new),” Nicora said.
“There were problems that came with the old wood. The old finish had to be stripped off, and it’s a lot drier than new wood.”
The old oak tended to split if holes were not drilled carefully. Several students remade pieces after the wood split, which would have cost them more money and perhaps a lower grade in the class.
Freshman Ryan Lemmermann didn’t remake any pieces, but said he had to be careful.
“I learned to drill holes and countersink them to not split the wood,” said Lemmermann, who enjoys working with tools. His chair will have a stained polyurethane finish that shows off the grain pattern.
Students made the chair seat for their semester project, while the back slats are their final exam.
“Many of them used polyurethane, which we provide. Some sprayed their chairs black but a lot were spraying them bright pink,” Nicora said. “They want to stand out on the beach.”
Nicora said he was pleased to see the two senior girls in the class and has noticed more girls and college-bound students showing an interest in technical education classes.
“Some of that is because we implemented introductory classes in the middle school, and they’re more comfortable with it,” he said.
“With the economy being challenging and seeing college graduates having trouble getting jobs, students want to have something they can fall back on. They see those in technical classes are being hired.”