DHS expanding real world woodworking experiences

Liana Bygel, Reporter

Whether constructing house, building furniture or cabinets, carpentry is invaluable part of the community and economy. The Durango High School woodworking department is ensuring that students looking to pursue a future in woodworking have the opportunity.

The woodworking course carpentry, is an all year elective available at DHS. Currently, the students are working on a dog house and will eventually start building a tiny home that they plan to sell at the end of the year. The class is allowing new opportunities for students with a passion for the trade that they normally wouldn’t receive in most woodworking classes.

“I went into this class because we can get a great certificate from it at the end of the year if we finish this new program that Coach Smith is doing. It opens up a lot doors for jobs after high school.” said Jr. Quin Crist.

Through the class, students are able to receive an electrical, plumbing, and framing certification which allows them to leave high school and have a greater opportunities for work experience. Mr. Smith has connected with the Home Builders Institute which allows students to participate in the pre-apprenticeship program that facilitates and guides students in building their tiny home.

“The Pre Apprenticeship Program is a new program this year at DHS.  It is one of about 300 just like it nationwide in other high schools and institutions. The program needed a certified instructor to teach the curriculum here at DHS. That’s me.” said woodworking teacher Shaun Smith.

Through participation in a program over the summer in Washington D.C, Mr. Smith is now qualified to teach students how to become certified In skills that will advance their futures as woodworkers.  

“In each community’s Home Builders Association, the HBI program is recognized and deemed as a valuable and authentic teaching program for the Construction Trades.  Carpentry, Electrical, Plumbing, Masonry, Landscaping, Painting, are some of the focus areas in this program.” said Smith.

Mr. Smith has connected with the local Home Builders Association to help students as they pursue HBI Certification, and move towards building their tiny home.   

“We are so excited and thankful for our local HBASC (Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado). They themselves are very excited for us, our local industry, and our local community for “Moving Forward” with bringing back the Trades to the high school setting.  There are a lot of Baby Boomer aged workers out there retiring and we need new and ambitious young workers to take the helm with the Construction Industry.” said Smith.

Through offering this along with many new classes, DHS is advancing their CTE (career and technical education) opportunities for students. Many of the students in the class look forward to using their newly learned skills as jobs or even careers in the future. They have already learned basic skills such as framing and continue to learn more skills that can be transmitted to jobs, and building bigger projects as they leave high school.

“Personally I really enjoy doing carpentry and want to pursue it in the future” said second year carpentry Jr. Brian Elvidge.