What’s in a dining room table? A lot more than may be apparent at first glance. For a family, the table can be a place where everyone gathers, lively discussions are held and homework is done. To many, it’s a central place to meet in a home and that’s precisely why it means so much for a family starting over.
On Thursday, April 7, Dr. David Cullison’s Construction Trades students at Fourth Avenue Junior High presented a brand new table that they budgeted for, designed, measured, cut, sawed, stained and assembled to Amberly’s Place, the family advocacy center that helps victims of abuse, which accepted the table on behalf of a family in need.
“For us, this is an opportunity to facilitate community service for these students and help themselves develop hands-on learning and skills that they will use not just today, but in their futures,” said Tori Bourguignon, director of Amberly’s Place. “And it’s an opportunity to give back to a family in need for their community. A table is a very personal thing so it’s a huge gift for a family.”
Victim Services Coordinator Sonia Salcido stated that she’s really proud of the children for working together to make the table. And everyone attending the presentation seemed to share that sentiment, including STEDY Superintendent Tom Tyree, Yuma ABEC Director of Strategic Partnerships Heidi Jones and Tap-Con Manufacturing carpenter Juan Olmeda.
Tyree expressed that the kind of hands-on learning that the project required is important since it incorporates so much of what the students are learning in middle school for real-world application and a good cause.
Students had the assistance of a professional carpenter, Juan Olmeda, which allowed for education on career opportunities. Designing and creating the table set involved plenty of math. But English Language Arts skills were used too as students began with a writing assignment about the significance of a dining room table.
“That writing project really connected it and made them think about the purpose of a dining table, like game night and family gatherings,” said Cullison. “Some wrote some pretty personal stories about their families and what that dining room table means to them. They [also] had to measure their table at home and identify the material and from there it turned into a more personal piece. Amberly’s Place came to speak and the students were easily able to relate to the need for a family moving into a new home with not much.”
Cullison said that his students were very excited the whole time. The whole process, starting from unfinished raw lumber, took two weeks. And the students weren’t the only ones learning new things – Cullison learned a bit too since they brought in a professional carpenter who came to help the students three days a week.
Olmeda, the carpenter, believed the students did a really good job and explained that the dimensions they chose were really good for a table. Although an average person may not think much of it, having seats or a table that are too high or too low can be a big issue. But the students didn’t have that issue, and Olmeda enjoyed helping so much that he’s offered to come help again anytime.
“That’s the thing, to continue to work on the wood,” Olmeda said. ‘If I don’t do it (work as a carpenter) anymore, that’s the day I’ll die because I love it. At work, my boss asked me to come here: ‘Go do the best that you can. I know you are a good person, I know you’re going to make it.’ I’m so happy and I wish to come and make another project.”
The students certainly enjoyed the parts they played in making the table as well.
“I stained one chair and it was actually pretty fun to me because it was knowing it was going to be for some kids,” said student Deisi Esquivel. “They needed a dining room table and it was really nice for me to sit and paint it knowing it’s going to someone who needs it. I hope we can do more stuff for other people.”
“I feel like everyone here that helped, they gained confidence and creativity skills when they helped with the dining table and it’s obviously going to help them in the future,” added student Jose Garcia.
“I’m really proud of you guys,” concluded Cullison as he addressed the class for the table’s presentation. “This is a very higher level skill level, but you guys did an awesome job on it.”
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