Carving out a career path

Coupeville High School sophomore Nevin Miranda sands wood he will use to construct a bookcase during a Woodlinks class, which provides more advanced training for students looking at a career in woodworking.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Coupeville High School sophomore Nevin Miranda sands wood he will use to construct a bookcase during a Woodlinks class, which provides more advanced training for students looking at a career in woodworking.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Woodworking students at Coupeville High School are working with professionals on Whidbey Island to develop skills that will lead to a career making furniture and cabinets.

They are participating in Woodlinks, a two-year program that will provide the eight students with the training that will get them through the national board certification provided by the Cabinet Makers Association.

Teacher Tom Eller said they will have the training to get in the door of the various shops that are scattered throughout Whidbey Island.

The students enrolled in the program have all taken some woodworking classes in the past and have enrolled in the class for advanced study. The class began two months ago at the start of the school year.

Junior Holly Block is working on a decorative lamp that uses mica as its shade.

“It just looked cool,” Block said. She came up with the idea while flipping through magazines.

As Block continues her work on the lamp, another student is producing something on a grander scale.

Senior Ryan Wells is building a grandfather clock which will be part of his senior project due before graduating.

He plans to continue working with wood as a hobby but in his near future he has his sights set on the Army and becoming a helicopter mechanic.

Other students in the class are producing tool boxes and bookshelves.

One group that has particularly helped get Woodlinks off the ground at Coupeville High School is the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild, a loosely-organized collection of professionals and amateurs scattered throughout Whidbey Island. Hopefully the program will lead students into woodworking as a profession.

“There’s not a lot of kids trained for entry-level woodworking jobs,” said guild member Bob Johnson. He said the program will develop a cadre of trained woodworkers while getting students into a career field where they can make a pretty good living.

He said the various shops on the island are always looking for help and without the assistance of some entry-level workers, they can lose business to companies off Whidbey Island.

Guild members mentor students in the class and will often visit classes to help students develop their techniques and provide input on how to complete their projects. The mentors will support students as they complete their major project that goes throughout the school year.

Teachers and volunteers have been working for several years to make the Woodlinks class at the high school a reality. It cost the Coupeville School District $5,000 to register for the program, which was covered by a grant.

Eller said the students will learn their woodworking skills and other necessities such as entrepreneurship and machinery maintenance.

In addition to providing technical assistance, Johnson is involved with another group that is helping the woodworking at Coupeville High School. The Coupeville Lions Club has been providing financial assistance to purchase materials for projects.

Both Lions clubs operating in the school district volunteered time when the high school was built and both groups volunteered to help install equipment in the new career and technical education building.

It all came together like a finely crafted bookcase.

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