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GEMS offering shop, other electives for 2018-19 school year

Contributed photos / Mike Johnson
Students in Mike Johnson’s Grangeville Elementary Middle School shop class (above) plan for a “hands-on” wood project; (above, left and right) lumber was donated by Idaho Forest Group’s Grangeville mill, and other locals and individuals have donated tools and other items for the program.


Contributed photos / Mike Johnson Students in Mike Johnson’s Grangeville Elementary Middle School shop class (above) plan for a “hands-on” wood project; (above, left and right) lumber was donated by Idaho Forest Group’s Grangeville mill, and other locals and individuals have donated tools and other items for the program.



— Grangeville Elementary Middle School has more to offer its students this year.

“I listened to what you had to say in the past year about students needing more electives, more exposure to different classes in middle school,” Grangeville Elementary Middle School principal Dr. Susan Anderson told the Mountain View School District board at the Aug. 20 meeting.

She said she asked herself, “What is one thing that would make a student really want to come to school?”

With this in mind, she and the GEMS staff worked to make it possible for middle school students to take more than one elective. Choices now include not only band, choir and art, but also wood shop, life skills (personal finance, cooking, sewing), yearbook, technology, study skills and Spanish.

Shop class is one that administrators feel will prove to be popular.

“We only have one shop class available to seventh and eighth graders,” explained GEMS teacher Mike Johnson, who, in his second year at GEMS, is also teaching five periods of science. “I am a wood-worker, but I have never taught any of this in a formal setting.”

Johnson said he wants students to first understand the safety aspects of tool use, then he wants them to design something they want to build.

“And then build it!” he said. The shop class is offered for nine weeks at a time, so the opportunity is opened up to as many students as possible.

“Through the support of the community, this is pulling together nicely,” Johnson said.

He said the program received a unit of 1-by-6 boards from the Idaho Forest Group, and have already tackled the idea of “turning these beautiful boards into projects such as bird houses, stairsteps, and whatever cool ideas the students have come up with,” he said.

Johnson added IFG also donated about $400 worth of tools, including a new circular saw and a cordless power drill. In addition, Grangeville Builders unloaded the unit of lumber outside of the shop where it was halved and stacked in the shop storage area.

“A veritable plethora of tools was left behind from [former teacher] Mr. Collins’ era of shop, and we are very thankful for these resources,” Johnson said. “As we move forward in offering the GEMS students more opportunities in hands-on type of electives, we are hoping that we can continue to gain support from local businesses and entities. We hope that some experts in the fields of wood-working, contracting, and construction will have some time to share with students so that the shop kids gain a better understanding of the importance of these skills in everyday life, and possibly careers.”

Johnson said touring manufacturing facilities, mills, businesses, and any other entities in which the students can gain knowledge about career opportunities is his ultimate goal — “beyond giving them all the skills to make cool stuff,” he said. “Today’s kids are going to be the ones helping make the world a better place, so it seems right to open up all available opportunities.”

“We really thank the community and businesses for their generous donations toward our shop,” Anderson also mentioned. “We’re excited about all the new offerings and we hope the students are, too.”



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