Huron Heights Secondary School - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Community: Ontario – I recently spoke with Karl Ludwig, a Technologies teacher at Huron Heights Secondary School, about introducing the next generation of furniture makers to the trade.

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Huron Heights Secondary School



Photos by Karl Ludwig

Karl Ludwig has been a Technologies teacher at Huron Heights Secondary School in Newmarket, Ont. for the last 12 years. Like most Technologies teachers, he came from the industry and is always willing to share “real-world” experiences and skills with his students. He also knows the students are learning far more than how to use the equipment competently and safely. “The students learn life skills; how to work through a problem, how to meet deadlines, how to work in teams. They also learn how to challenge themselves. All of these cross-curricular skills help them in post-secondary school life.”
 
A recent grade 11 furniture making class was especially impressive. “They were an interesting mix of students,” says Ludwig “who had known each other from previous tech classes and grade levels. There was a friendly rivalry amongst the students, which caused them to try to outdo each other.”
 
Ludwig said the staff at Huron Heights, especially previous Tech Head Steve Giacomini, an experienced furniture maker, has passionately promoted their department to incoming grade 9 students. He admits it is a difficult task, as most elementary schools no longer offer industrial arts programmes. Trying to keep up-to-date with what the students are interested in is a big part of bringing students through the shop doors. “We have recently purchased a CNC router and an industrial-quality panel saw,” boasts Ludwig.
 
To bolster the weakening state of trades in Canada Ludwig would like to see this sector of education taken more seriously by the Board of Education and the Ministry of Education. “I would like to see tech studies become mandatory in all high schools,” says Ludwig, although he admits that tech departments must continually offer relevant programing.
 
One way in which the students gain “real-life” experiences is by having to work with certain functional parameters. For example, the recent grade 11 class had to create a table with a drawer. “They learn about aesthetics, ergonomics, function, joinery, and furniture styles throughout the design process,” explained Ludwig. “After sketching their ideas, then producing orthographic drawings of their chosen design, they use Sketchup to create 3D renderings.”
 
Ludwig believes the students he sees are natural learners and are interested in knowing how things are built. His favourite part of the job is “watching the transformation of the students from unsure and intimidated grade 9, to competent, confident, skilled young adults in grade 12.”

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Sofa Table – Justin Walters made this hard maple and roasted oak sofa table. It includes hidden drawers in both side aprons. Justin is a fan of the mission style, and incorporated some detailing into the sides, between the legs.

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Computer Table – Colby Ludwig designed and made this piece, and aptly named it the “Periodic Table Table”. The scientific elements were cut into the table’s surface with a CNC router. The purpleheart surface near the rear will support a computer monitor.

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CNC Capabilities – The Huron Heights Technology department has made sure to keep up with the times and have what students are interested in. This CNC router gives the students lots of flexibility when it comes to designing interesting projects, and the skills students learn are transferable to the workplace.

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Lots of Tools – Though computerized equipment excites many students, they still need old-fashioned hand tools to complete many of their projects.

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Side Table – This unique table was made by Jacob Currie. The angled hard maple legs are reinforced with roasted oak splines to create a strong and stable table. The dark spline was turned into a design element, as Jacob added more inlay in the legs.


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ROB BROWN

 
Rob spent much of his high-school life in the wood shop, but admits it would have been a challenge for him to create pieces comparable to these students’ tables.