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IEACBS Partners in Education

Since founded in 2001, we have partnered with schools in an effort to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), CTE (Career and Technical Education), and local business in schools. Starting with Sandpoint High Schools build a boat project, elementary schoolers little boat builders, Central Valley High School restoration project, to scholarships given to the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock, WA. Contact Alan Wardsworth or Ron Yandt if your school is interested in a partnership. 


Central Valley High School -Students in the Spokane Valley are lucky in an age when, across the country, traditional vocational programs are being dropped in favor of 4 year college preparatory programs. CVHS has a bit of the “old school” table saws, jointers, chop saws and a bit of the new like laser engravers and CNC routers. Walk down the hall and students can learn to weld with MIG/TIG welders and bend sheet metal in the manufacturing class. Additionally, they can use their new WaterJet for small projects or the 8’ CNC plasma cutter for larger ones. All has been made possible by the Boeing Core Plus curriculum program for construction, manufacturing and marine. The marine aspect peaked SkillsUSA advisor Alan Wardsworth’s interest and as he put it, “we were doing First Robotics which was a great program for the kids, but the price tag was difficult to maintain.”

With that idea in mind Wardsworth and Ron Beard, the other advisor, were presented with an opportunity to restore a 1959 Chris Craft Ski boat in the afterschool program. SkillsUSA is a co-curricular program like FFA without the cows but more for the construction/tech areas. SkillsUSA is one of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) offered at CVHS and typically takes on service learning, competitions, and community service projects. With that concept in mind, they met John Whitcomb who had a ready for a full restoration project. John and his wife Linda have always been big education supporters, so a deal was struck, and the project was off to a flying start. Students drawing from their First Robotics experience started raising funds to support this very extensive restoration. The school took delivery of the boat on September 25th, 2018 and the project was started shortly after with initial cleaning, inventory of parts, and making plans and parts lists. The Spokane area has a rich history of classic boat building so to make those connections they reached out to the Inland Empire Classic Boat Society for help and guidance. According to Mr. Beard, “those connections not only benefit SkillsUSA but also my regular classes. If I have a problem with a welder, I can reach out to one of our business sponsors for help.” Both Mr. Wardsworth and Mr. Beard had been woodworking and metals teachers for years but neither had ever attempted a boat restoration from the ground up and wanted to make it as authentic as possible. This included stain and varnish, wiring, and steam bending. Moving into January of 2019 the students, advisors, and members of the Inland Empire chapter met on a Saturday for flipping and teardown. By the end of the day (and many pizzas later) the project was sitting on rollers and stripped to the frame where the real work began. John Whitcomb enlisted the support of Daryl Reynolds, past president of the Inland Empire Chapter of the ACBS, to help source advice and information about wood boat restoration techniques, and arrange tours of area boat shops, including Stancraft (Hayden, Idaho), Yandt Boat Works & CDA Boat Shop (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), and others. With the frame stripped to bare mahogany it became clear that we would be replacing many parts which became the real task of deciding which would be restored and which would be replaced. We decided that this would be a preservation and not a restoration. Work proceeded at a great pace and we were able to complete the bottom restoration and get a few coats of varnish on the sides before it was on display at the Spokane Boat Show in 2020, which was the second time it was displayed, the first being in 2019 when it was mostly stripped down. The week of March 13th, 2020, students in Mr. Beard’s class flipped the Chris Craft old school by just grabbing it and flipping it over. “When you have 30 students in a class and the fact that these wooden boats are pretty light without an engine, they can be flipped pretty easily,”  remarked Mr. Beard. That week schools across the state of Washington shut down because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Work on the Chris Craft did not resume again until January of 2021, when in person learning school began in the Central Valley School district. Wardsworth and Beard did meet with the kids via Zoom and did virtual boat building, but it was not until students were fully in the building that they were allowed to use equipment. With enthusiasm, work began again with the goal of being on display in September at the International Boat Show in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If restoration goes as planned, they hope to be in the water at the end of the 2021-22 school year. In addition to their current project, students are also working on the mild restoration of a wooden drift boat. Word has gotten out about the success of this project and the CVHS Marine program has received restoration requests ranging from barn finds to dinghys.  Future plans include taking the Bear’ly Afloat (Bears are CVHS mascot) to the Spokane Boat Show where Scott Thompson, president of the boat show, is considering purchasing it for a raffle. The Central Valley boosters are also interested in auctioning it off in their yearly fundraising auction with proceeds going back to the program for future projects. Below: Students and staff at this year's International Boat show in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

By Kristen Winn • August 19, 2023

     Thanks to StanCraft Boats and Ron Yandt, Priest Lake Museum held a boat model painting party on August 19 Vintage Boat Day.  Over 70 boats were painted and many were floated in nearby Priest Lake.  The children had such a fun time decorating their boats...maybe one of them will be an owner of a  classic in the future.  This party was held in conjunction with the Museum's "A to Z" Exhibit, with the model boats representing the letter  "K," for Kant Sink 'Em Boats, a very popular Lake boat in the 1920's and 1930's.

What happen to the School Shop?

     What happened to the high school shop? A question I get a lot being a retired shop teacher beginning in 1986. I went to high school in the mid 1970’s in Oregon at which time the state of Oregon ranked among the best public school systems in the country. Our school shop programs were divided in two, the ag program and the college bound program and were required by all students. Some classes were duplicates and sometimes you could take a class not in your path if you were nice to the counselor. I didn’t think much about the curriculum at the time until I entered the Industrial Education program at the University of Idaho and realized that ¾ of the teachers I had from junior high to junior college went through the teacher education program at UI. In the early days if a student wasn't too “book savvy” there was always a place for them in a “hands on minds on” class which they could be successful in. As the computer age developed many of those kids realized computers were just another tool and what most people thought was magic they gasp quickly. In the early 2000’s the University of Arizona released a study saying that a college degree was worth an extra one million dollars over a career which pushed a percentage of kids to seek a 4 year degree. Another factor that impacted high school shops was the cost of equipment/materials and the chances of serious equipment related accidents. Even if the shop teacher had covered all aspects of safety, a lawsuit as of 2015 averaged 6 million dollars. The shops that have been able to survive were able to adopt technologies with Cad, CNC, Lasers, and WaterJets into their programs with grants and help from local businesses. Today the biggest problem is not necessarily interest, cost, or the push for a 4 year degree. Rather it’s the lack of trained teachers, when I graduated in the great Spokane area there were about 180 new teachers a year and today only Central Washington University has a CTE (Career and Technical Education) program where they graduate on average about 25 teachers. Getting students involved early might be just as big of a factor, very few middle schools offer shop programs these days and you will be surprised to know many high schoolers have never used a hammer let alone a table saw and why would they if their parents never taught them hands on skills.

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