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Everybody wins with new program

Daron Letts
Northern News Services

Colville Lake (June 13/05) - When teachers are passionate about what they teach, it shows in their students' work.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Grade 5 student Bradley Kelley shows off one of the pens he and the other students have carved from local birch trees on the new equipment purchased through donations.

Students at Chief T'Selehye school in Colville Lake are getting noticed for their enthusiasm and talent, thanks to the initiative of two teachers.

Phil Meaney and Gordon Sutton brought their lifelong love of woodworking into the school curriculum this year after they raised enough money to create a new workshop for students.

Twice a week, students from Grades 5, 6 and 9 work on new lathes and a scroll saw, fashioning pens, miniature baseball bats and spindles from locally harvested hardwood.

A few keen students in other grades also participate in the classes.

Grade 5 student Bradley Kelley is learning to carve birch on the new equipment.

"Bradley seems to be a natural on these tools," said Meaney. "Even his first attempts were excellent."

Kelley said he enjoys working with wood and plans to translate his new skills into an entrepreneurial venture someday soon.

Selling their work

In fact, several buyers, including MLA Norm Yakeleya and mining companies that donated to the program, have already contacted the school to inquire about purchasing pens made by Kelley and his classmates.

The school board is also ordering some of the pens, which the students can personalize using heat transfer labelling equipment. The pens will be distributed at a fall conference.

Any profits from the sale of the students' work will be put back into the program to purchase new equipment and supplies.

Meaney said there are plans to expand the popular woodworking program to cover Grades 5-12 next year.

He said the school may also offer night courses for interested students and possibly a course for adults through Aurora College.