EHS competitors knock on wood
Sometimes schoolwork can be tedious. Balancing work, extracurricular activities and studies can be difficult. Sometimes the work itself is no walk in the park. However, two Eudora High students recently found out hard work and knowledge of subject matter can pay off in a big way.
Dale Hofer, an instructor at EHS, teaches students cabinet making and other woodworking skills. The school is a member of the Vocational and Industrial Club of America (VICA), which assists the learning of vocational and industrial trades.
"VICA is a national organization that promotes vocational and industrial arts and the trades," Hofer said. "Once a year we select five or six kids to compete against other cabinet making schools."
Hofer selected 14 students from his class to attend the state VICA conference in April 5-7 in Wichita, Ks. While the selection process wasn't easy, he said he chose from students showing dedication and proficiency in their work.
"I took people that had demonstrated high ability and commitment," Hofer said. "And they had to belong to the club."
Students were required to build a 1:7 ratio model of a kitchen sink front using specified plans within 3 1/2 hours. Senior Richard Neis was one of 14 competitors, and claimed first place for his work.
"The hardest part about it was figuring out the plans," Neis said. "And, you had to get as far as you could within a certain amount of time."
In addition to his school experience, Neis is also working as an apprentice for The Wood Butcher, Eudora woodworking/furniture company owned by Terry L'Ecuyer. Neis said he has added to his skill by learning how to operate computer controlled woodworking equipment studying under L'Ecuyer.
"I'm taking on-the-job training," Neis said, "and I've learned how to get things done with the same quality, but a lot quicker."
Junior Jeff Way was also a winner, taking third place for his work. He said after getting a taste for the competition last year he was more prepared for the challenge to come.
"This year I was a little more confident in myself," Way said. "Last year we worked with something that really wasn't wood. But this year I knew we were going to be working with wood. I felt confident."
In addition to the awards, first place won $100 and third place won $50. Both students also received their choice of Dewalt power tools.
Though the competitions are important, Hofer said, it's the skill of woodworking that helps mold a students with good work ethics and experience.
"I think it can give them a life skill, but it gives them an understanding for a life's work too," Hofer said. "It's a good skill because it teaches them precision, planning and valuable skills in the workplace."
The two EHS winners will compete in early June at the VICA national convention, to be held in Kansas City, Hofer said.