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Students Think Outside the Box

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PLEASANT HILL, Ore. — It’s never too late for change.┬áSome students at Pleasant Hill High School are trying something outside the box.

Woodshop at Pleasant Hill High School is a room of organized chaos and leading the class is Steve Smith.

“If someone is using a piece of equipment wrong ,I hear that sound right away. I know it’s not right,” Smith said.

You could say wood is ingrained in Smith. Pleasant Hill is where he attended high school.

“See, this is the same workshop that I worked in when I was a kid. I graduated from here and I worked in the same workshop. It was like coming back to the same place I was at one time,” Smith said.

Smith teaches students how to build and create.

“You’ve got to be precise to get all the measurements right. Everything has got to look perfect and you’ve got to sand it,” said student Chad Way.

For 60 years, classes have assembled chairs and benches and helped fix items at school. But this semester, Smith gave a new purpose to their careful sanding–a community project.

“I thought it was a great idea. I thought it was something else to do and now we can actually give instead of making something for ourselves,” Way said.

“I think they are more particular about their work because it’s going to go to someone else and it’s not just something for them so they spend a little bit more time on what they are doing,” said Smith.

Just as Smith predicted, that’s exactly what happened. Under the Giving Tree in the student library are two teddy bear chairs to be given to children in need. Another six have already been donated to the community center for distribution. Turn the chairs over, and you’ll find the students names proudly handwritten

Woodwork is something Smith takes pride in and it’s wood that almost took his life. At age 25 while logging, a tree rolled on top of him.

“I was so fortunate to be alive. A few more inches and I would have been dead,” Smith said.

The accident cost him his left arm, but Smith has never allowed it to be a handicap. Smith is now leading his students on a new project–13 hope chests, each detailed with the same care and precision, knowing they’ll be given to someone in need.

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