Sydenham HS manufacturing technology students at the sawmill workshop
For people who wonder where the next generation of skilled foresters, carpenters, and other rural trades persons are gong to come from, the answer is from the rural High Schools.
And Mike Mol and Gord Darling from Sydenham High School are leading the way.
A group of Sydenham High School students enjoyed a taste of the early winter weather last Friday (December 11) when they travelled to the Ed Fitzgerald property near Westport to participate in a portable saw milling workshop. The students are all enrolled in a grade 11-12 program that delivers the high school curriculum while focussing on manufacturing technology.
Sydenham High School offers a High Skills Major in Manufacturing Technology that is spearheaded by the Mike Mol, the head of technology, and Gord Darling, the construction technology teacher at the school.
Among their other teaching skills, Darling and Mol are certified chainsaw instructors, and the Limestone District School Board provides funding for them to provide two day chainsaw safety courses for students at SHS and elsewhere in the Board. They deliver the courses at North Addington in Cloyne, and recently Sharbot Lake High School students took part in a course they gave at Ed Fitzgerald’s far,
“During that course the students felled quite few very straight, tall trees, that were quite suitable for lumber, so we go the idea of doing a sawmill course for eh Sydenham students, to take them through the whole process from tree in the bush to lumber for construction,” Mike Mol said in an interview from the school on Tuesday (December 15).
8 students, all of whom have taken the chainsaw course, took part in the workshop. The students felled a few trees to add to the ones that were felled I he SKHS chainsaw course, and went through the process of limbing, cleaning, and skidding the trees to the portable saw that had been brought to the site by Doug Kennedy from Godfrey.
“Doug talked to them about how he cuts logs, the different profiles he can use, how to produce lumber based on customers specifications, the whole process.”
Since the wood being milled was Basswood, which is not of any real use as fire wood, but is ideal for some of the projects that Gord Darling does in his wood shop, the school will make good use of the 3,000 board feet of lumber that was produced that day.
“The students learned some skils they could never learn in a classroom, about safety on a work site and how to identify what needs to be done,” aid Mike Mol.
The day also qualifies as what is called a “reach ahead” acrivity, something that cannot be accomplished in the normal school environment, which are required in the high skills major program.
In addition to the chainsaw certification, students in the high skills major have also achieved workplace safety certification, first aid, CPR, lift truck certification, and more.
When they graduate from SHS, there will be a red sticker on their cetificate, indicating that they have this extra level of education beyond the normal high school graduation diploma.
“They will have an advantage in a manufacturing setting, because they will already have this required training, all funded by the school board,” Mol said.
Being rural educators, Mol and Darling end to focus on outdoors education and have done a lot of training in forestry education, which they are constantly upgrading.