Woodshop – a Hidden Paradise for Students

By Brandon McCormick & Eric Gerlach –

Woodshop – a little known class – but it’s beloved by many students.

When selecting school courses, not all students opt for the hands-on classes. But there is a select group of students who know what one of their electives will be each year. These students, without question, will have a woodshop class in one of their blocks.  Tyler Dommel, for instance, is a four-year veteran of wood shop.

Tyler Dommel posing with his project - Photo by Matthew Soto

“I took woodshop all four years,” Dommel said, “It will help me (create things) in the future,” said Dommel.

In the upper level classes, students are able to choose what they want to build with teachers, Matt Soto, permission.

Last year Dommel made a coffee table and this year he is making a TV stand. These projects he will be able to keep for a lifetime.

“My most successful project is my coffee table,” said Dommel, “but my TV stand this year will be equally as nice.”

The Cabinetry II class is the most advanced class of wood shop that Penn Manor offers. Some students who take this class joke around to other Penn Manor students that cabinetry II is an AP class, in more specific terms, “AP Wood.”

Kyle Musser has been taking woodshop classes for two years.

“I would recommend this class because it helps you think,” said Musser.

Musser plans to continue taking cabinetry classes to reach the “AP Wood” level.

Soto, the woodshop teacher, claims his favorite part of the class is the creativity and using the machines.

Matthew Soto helps a student cut wood - Photo by Eric Gerlach

“There are a lot of potentially dangerous machine that we need to be skilled in using,” said Soto.

Even with the potentially hazardous machines students use, Soto provides a safe class says Kyle Kann, another four year veteran.

“He keeps a safe work environment,” says Kann. “He runs a tight ship.”

Kann claims the most irritating part of the class is taking the safety quizzes before the students can use any machines. Although he understands the reasoning, everyone needs to be certified for each machine to ensure the safety of themselves and everyone in the shop.

“It’s something hands-on you can do during the day, and I’ll get something to keep at the end of the year,” said Kann.

Since the shop is tucked away in the lowest level of the school some students aren’t even aware of it.

Student working on their woodshop - Photo by Eric Gerlach

“I’ve never taken woodshop,” said Brandon Schuman.

Schuman has decided to stay away from the hands-on class claiming he doesn’t enjoy working with wood. He admits it would be an enjoyable class for some students.

“It gives appreciation for hard work and enhances their ability to be good craftsmen,” said Soto. “They have the enjoyment of making something they can take home with them.”

The class even takes part in “doughnut Friday.”  If everyone is progressing in their project the class enjoys a quick snack before heading off to second block.

Almost all “AP Wood” students agreed, others should take part in this hands on class, although they don’t mind keeping the secret to themselves.

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