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Wood shops remain at some Denver high schools

Jeremy P. Meyer
The Denver Post
Denver, CO Colorado
RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostLizzy Linsmayer, 17, left, and Jamason Brown-Torres, 16, work Wednesday on building guitars in an East High School class. Some think the nation's labor force will suffer with a lack of hands-on skills among students.
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DENVER, Colorado – Seventeen-year-old David Romero slowly sanded the basswood last week on a guitar he has been building in a popular woodworking class at East High School in Denver, an offering that is bucking a trend in public education.

Schools have been dismantling industrial arts classes like wood shop, welding and carpentry for two decades. Administrators cite budget cuts and an increased emphasis on the core subjects of reading, writing and mathematics.

Wood shops remain in three of Denver’s 10 traditional high schools and at Career Education Center Middle College of Denver.

“South High School turned its shop into a student lounge,” said Joel Noble, an East teacher who is keeping the wood shop tradition going. “I’m doing it because I want the program to stay for the kids. People need to understand how to work with their hands.”

Noble has taught wood shop for a decade and also instructs robotics, drafting and engineering classes. He started East’s luthier program three years ago, and every year, more students sign up.

The classes have built acoustic guitars, Stratocaster clones and, this year, most students are crafting heavy metal guitars in the Gothic design of famed manufacturer BC Rich.

A handful of students are building Alembic-style guitars – finely crafted instruments made famous by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and jazz bassist Stanley Clarke.

“As a freshman, we started with building salt shakers, and now we are building guitars,” said Romero, a senior who is constructing his third guitar in as many years.

Romero has spent the year researching his Alembic bass, figuring out the best wood for bass tones and is slowly creating a guitar that he hopes could be worth more than $2,000 if sold in the shops. But he plans to keep – and play – the instrument.

“It’s really helped my guitar appreciation and my playing,” he said. “I went from never having touched an instrument to building

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_14267200#ixzz0dkwIja7c


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