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Students Learn Carpentry at Carroll County Career Tech Center

A carpentry program at Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Maryland puts local high school juniors and seniors to work building sheds while they gain hands-on experience with tools and craftsmanship.

carpenter cutting wood with circular saw
(TNS) — Students wearing safety glasses and tool belts were hammering, sawing and carrying lumber at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center on Thursday. They were building sheds, an assignment that helps fund the program.

The sheds are good enough to sell, which is exactly what the carpentry program plans to do. But the real mission is to help students develop carpentry skills they can use later on.

“It’s not like a normal shed,” Lucas Trawinski, a Westminster High School student, said about the 10x16 structure. “It’s almost like making a mini house.”

They use the same materials used to make houses, like aluminum fascia and vinyl siding, for the shed, Trawinski said. On Thursday, he was working on a platform to help the process of loading the shed on a truck without damaging the structure’s base.

The senior said they started the sheds four days prior and suspects it will take until the end of the semester to finish. Students began the year building individual stools.

The six-credit program starts the second semester of junior year and ends the first semester of senior year. Students in 10th grade from all Carroll County public high schools can apply for the program on the tech center’s website by Dec. 1.

Trawinski said he’s gained a lot of skills from the program, which he plans to use everyday throughout his life.

“I can save so much money just knowing how to fix a window,” he said.

Jon Mersinger, the carpentry teacher, said he tries to pick a project that fits the agenda and fits the program's budget. The proceeds from shed sales are used to purchase needed materials for the carpentry program. Although the sheds are for sale, Mersinger said the project is “all about the skills.”

Hands-on instruction is key in this class. Mersinger said of the four-plus hours of class time he has with the students each day, he only wants to spend 20 minutes, at most, in the classroom. The students are more receptive to the instruction while building in the tech center garage.

One thing he said he emphasizes to the students is that it’s not all about the speed.

“It’s about being accurate,” he added.

Mersinger said the group of 18 students he had Thursday morning were really good. They started the program right after hybrid learning, which started Jan. 7.

“This crew came in hungry,” Mersinger said.

Not only are they skilled but they have a passion for the craft, he added.

Another one of his students was senior Joel Glantzberg of Francis Scott Key High School who was working on the base for the shed’s ramp with fellow senior and FSK student David Greene as well as Tristen Trevorah of Winters Mill High School.

Glantzberg said he enjoys the class and prefers the hands-on method of learning.

“I did so bad in online school,” he said about last school year. “It wasn’t the best year.”

A different group of seniors started on the sheds last year. But Mersinger’s current group finished them up before starting on another. One of the finished sheds sat in the parking lot just outside the garage the students were working in.

Senior Jacob Hinkhaus of Winters Mill gave a tour and pointed out that students built in electricity.

“These double doors are really nice too,” he said. “Top notch stuff right here.”

Hinkhaus said his favorite part about building the shed was putting the roof trusses and the framing in general. This isn’t the first time he’s worked on sheds. He built one with his dad while utilizing the skills he learned in class. At that point, he had only been in the class for half of the school year.

“But it already helped me learn so much,” he added.

He said carpentry was the best program in the school and recommends it to anyone who’s looking to attend the tech center.

Mersinger said he has a list of 17 employers who are in need of students, and the industry needs new folks. He said the average age of a carpenter is 40.

“Everyone wants to play on the computer all day,” he said. “I can’t really sit on my duffel all day and a lot of these kids can’t either.”

Throughout the years of surveying seniors, Mersinger said a third of them indicated they will pursue carpentry full-time. Another third said they have other career goals, and the last third enrolled in community college or a university. He said his goal is to have 50% of his students pursue carpentry full time.

“Don’t get me wrong, we welcome everyone who wants that life skill,” Mersinger said.

©2021 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.