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By John Dowd 

TFHS shop class gets new machinery


January 13, 2022

John Dowd

Thompson Falls High School shop class students Zack Biros (left) and Austin Goatley stand in front of the school's laser wood burning machines.

There are many skills a person can take with them from high school, but sometimes the most overlooked are those from shop class. Bill McGuire's various shop classes at Thompson Falls High School work to give youth other skill sets and understanding to take with them through life, and even make careers out of. "What I like about this is that a kid can actually build something and take it home," said McGuire. The shop classes McGuire teaches include small engines, automotive, welding, wood shop, drafting and more. Shop students can come up with ideas, design them and then execute them under a basic curriculum.

The shop classes recently purchased a new laser wood burner using the Carl Perkins grant. The grant is through the federal government and specifically helps Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs across the nation. Thompson Falls High School Principal Jodi Morgan applied for the grant and the district paid the offset costs to get the new machine, which arrived at the school in November. The machine cost around $12,000, is more than twice the size of their old one and will allow them to burn on bigger projects, some the size of countertops. The machine opens on both sides and can have items longer than itself passed through it.

One of McGuire's students, Zack Biros, wants to carry what he has learned in shop class further. After graduation, he plans to try to start his own craft business. In class he has made several tables, boards and many other projects. "I've made a lot of stuff and I love it!" said Biros. Another of McGuire's students, Austin Goatley, used the old smaller laser burner to craft a desk sign for his father's business. He explained he did it to show his father how much he likes and appreciates his father's work. The sign was made from blue pine and was covered and sealed in a resin coating. Other students have put together numerous projects ranging from guitars to hunting bows.

The class has made props for school productions, decorations for the Christmas concerts, school signs and other projets. Students have access to multiple design programs. Much of the class's lumber is donated by Thompson River Lumber, who gives them the blue pine they use.

McGuire expressed his appreciation to the Thompson Falls school system. "Without the support of the district, none of this would be possible."


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