By Will Phillips
Students are building more than their grade point averages at Henry County High School. Woodworking teacher Andrew Shearer’s class is working on a very special project that he hopes will strengthen ties within the community.
The class is building furniture that will be donated to local daycares. Shearer said that he came up with the idea when a friend of his who works at a daycare told him how much daycare furniture costs out of catalogs.
“A little reading nook costs $350,” He said. “Well, I’ve got all the materials to do that. I’ve got students who want to learn. So I asked them, what if we do something for the community. So we have taken the pictures and the details from the catalog, and we’ve been building the furniture, and then we’re going to donate it.”
In addition, Shearer said that the class is using materials that were donated to the school, so there is little to no cost for them.
“So we’re using donated materials, building the furniture, then donating it back to the community,” Shearer said. “That’s a win-win.”
Shearer is also excited about the student response, which, according to him, has been excellent. The students are excited, Shearer said, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to build these pieces of furniture.
“If they want to use these materials to build something for themselves, they’re more than welcome to it, but the fact that when I mentioned, hey, we can do this for daycares, they got excited.” Shearer said.
The students seem to agree. Senior Byron Robbins said that he enjoys helping little kids. “I would like to see their faces. I like being a role model.”
His classmate, senior Ethan Smith, said that he “feels really good about it. It would be so expensive if it weren’t for us doing it.”
Shearer said that he would enjoy being able to do another project like this in the future.
“I love it. If I find out that there’s other places, if we could build something for the nursing home up the road, if there’s something we could do for the community, my kids would be interested because it’s a tight knit community,” Shearer said. “It gives them a sense of ownership because when they graduate they could see something and say, ‘hey I built that.’ So I’d love to keep doing it, if I can keep getting donated materials, if that can happen. If the donated materials go away, I can’t.”
Shearer said that typically, the materials are donated to him without his asking. As an example, he said that Tractor Supply in La Grange brought him “boxes and boxes and boxes of fasteners.” He added that they use the materials all of the time.
“That’s money that doesn’t come out of my budget. It makes it easier to do charity projects.”
Shearer said that one piece of furniture has already been delivered to a local daycare and that more will be on the way soon.
In addition, the same class is working on a senior project, where students cut and stain pieces of wood trim, then bolt those pieces of trim onto the wall in the hallway of the high school. Then, each senior puts his or her handprint onto a piece of red or black tile. That tile is then slid into the trim and displayed on the wall. Shearer said that the project is a step up from previous years, and that it will look very classy and professional when finished.
To donate materials or to get more information about the projects Shearer’s students are working on, please call 845-8670.