WARREN — Anyone in the market for new pens, hot plate trivets, magnets, coasters, whistles and keychains might want to check out the handmade projects a group of Warren Woods Tower High School students created over the summer.
This July and August, seven students participated in the Make It Work program, which provided them with an introduction to machine technology and woodworking.
The program was made possible through the Michigan Rehabilitation Services and gave the special needs students an opportunity to train in the areas of CNC machining, lathe operation, vinyl cutting, glass etching and light construction with traditional woodworking tools.
WWT occupational therapists Michele Morgan and Deborah Carlton oversaw the program. Make It Work was made possible through the support of Jennifer Pindera, the MRS counselor who provides services to WWT. Students in the program were identified by the state as having disability-related barriers to competitive employment, and they received a stipend for participating.
The program ran July 21 through Aug. 8 and provided the students a longer period of time to work on projects than they have during the regular school year. The class met from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and was set up like a job.
“We could dedicate 5 1/2 hours to these projects uninterrupted,” Morgan said. “This was the first year for the program. I thought this was a huge success.”
To help make the program work, Solid Surfaces, in Sterling Heights, donated unused granite and quartz. Once that was secured, the students got right to work, learning new skills along the way.
“I didn’t know I could use the tools the way I used them,” said Byron Clark, who enters 12th grade this year and made a collection of pens, keychains and whistles. “I got different shapes out of all of them.”
While some students might not want to be in school in the summer, Anthony Head “didn’t mind it.”
“It wasn’t bad, actually,” the incoming senior said.
Future junior Kyle Carnaby and 2014 graduate Nick Crook made a good team working together on the CNC machine to make magnets designed with different letters of the alphabet. Crook was responsible for creating the magnets’ designs on the computer firsthand and then hooking them up to the machine. Carnaby was the laborist. Both appreciated the three-week work experience.
“It gave me something to do,” Cook said.
“It gave me the ability to do the work,” Carnaby said.
Joshua Kortebein, a senior next month, became quite a master on the lathe machine, making acrylic and wooden pens.
“It spins at high speed and then you use a gauge,” he said explaining the lathe. “You just hold it and slide it down to shave the material.”
Students make various items during the school year. Their original art is sold at the school throughout the year and also is in the Starkweather Art Center in Romeo. Money from sales goes back into the program to purchase new supplies, replace tools and fund public transportation for field trips. And it’s always a thrill when the students sell a piece they made.
“It feels good because you made it. It was made by a student from Warren Woods Tower,” said Stephanie Hewelt, a 2014 graduate. “It makes you feel you actually matter. It’s something homemade.”
Barry Maul, a 2014 graduate, also was in the program, and Kaitlin Laski volunteered to help out.