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Branson Boxwell sands a cutting board for the woodshop sale. (contributed photo)

Coach Kent Hawthorne of the Refugio Independent School District has started a new learning project for the woodshop program. This project teaches the students how to use the skills they have learned through woodshop in their lives after high school.

The students created work groups that simulate a company. They had to create resumes and select a president to lead each company. The companies then work on creating different objects to eventually sell. The objects being made include clocks, serving trays, votive candle holders, cutting boards and letter openers.

“My thing is, I want these kids to learn how to work,” said Hawthorne. “... Work ethics is my number one priority. Be proud of what you do, come to work everyday, do a good job. Make sure you’re a good parent, a good husband, a good father. You want to be able to keep a job and stay employed. We worked on doing our resumes, our applications, what to put on them and how to interview.”

Hawthorne is proud to instill this work ethic in his students. The students are equally excited to work on these projects.

“That’s just getting us ready for later in life when we are eventually going to have to do that,” said Jordan Kelley.

Kelley is the president of one of the companies. His company is creating candleholders. Kelley has been doing woodshop projects ever since he was a freshman.

“I was always the type of kid who had hands-on experience,” said Kelley. “I’ve always been an outdoor type of kid so I just liked making stuff. That’s basically what pushed me to be in this class.”

Kelley feels this project has prepared him for the future. He even had to figure out what percentage of potential profits would go to his employees in the simulated company.

Caleb Hesseltine is another one of Hawthorne’s company presidents. He named his company Hesseltine Clockworks. Hesseltine’s team has so far created 11 clocks. Like Kelley, Hesseltine also spent a lot of time outdoors.

“I was always helping my dad out with projects outside,” said Hesseltine. “Coach Hawthorne, he’s one of my favorite coaches and teachers. He really helps kids out and does an awesome job at it.”

Hesseltine grew up helping his father and knew that he would use these skills later in life.

“As a team, it helps build character with each other because you learn how to work together with each other and you learn who works good and who’s not nearly as good,” continued Hesseltine. “It creates a working environment.”

Hesseltine appreciates the simulated aspect of a business. Finding jobs for everyone to do and keeping everyone happy has been a challenge that Hesseltine had to overcome. He is excited to see the finished products when they are ready to sell.

Ty Lafrance, a president for a school woodshop company that makes cutting boards, also is appreciative of what Hawthorne is teaching them.

“I think it’s a good life skill to learn,” said Lafrance. “... When I get older and have my own house and business, I’m going to need to take care of it myself. I think it’s great to learn it and he’s a good teacher. He’s helping us a lot.”

Lafrance has enjoyed the hands-on experience and gives Hawthorne much of the credit for his interest in woodshop.

Lafrance mentions that despite how simple it may appear to be, there is a long process in making sure everything is straight and even in creating these cutting boards.

“We have lots of different designs and colors and different shapes,” continued Lafrance. “I would like to see which ones sell the best and we can make more of those in the future.”

Hawthorne is hopeful to have the products ready to be sold for finals week, though the companies are all in different places in the project based on the complexity of their product.


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