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Centennial among schools seeking new shop equipment

Shane Pope, industrial education teacher at Centennial, stands with students Steven Bratina and Mathew Ciarniello, in the school’s woodworking shop. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Shane Pope, industrial education teacher at Centennial, stands with students Steven Bratina and Mathew Ciarniello, in the school’s woodworking shop.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Centennial secondary’s Shane Pope hopes a move into a new building will bring his school’s shop classes into the 21st century.

Planning is now underway for the move, which will see the large automotive, woodworking and metalwork shops transfer into the new $47.7-million building sometime in the 2015/’16 school year. It’s an exciting prospect for Pope, an industrial education teacher who graduated from Centennial in 1991 and has worked there since 2000, rising to the post of department head.

For him, the school’s industrial education department is integral to the school built in the country’s Centennial year and he wants it to continue to be a magnet school for students considering a career in the trades.

“You have to bolster what we’ve got here,” Pope said while leading a tour of the expansive shops with their dusty table tops, walls crammed with student projects and extensive array of equipment.

There are seven teachers in the Centennial industrial education department, teaching more than 500 students a year, and most of the teens are eager to get into sought-after trades such as metal fabrication, construction and automotive repair. Many just enjoy creating something with their hands.

“These courses are important,” Pope said. “How else do we get kids hooked onto shop class and disconnected from their video games to build real things?”

But he worries that his school’s shop equipment is getting old and may one day stop working. And with no funding to replace it, students won’t be able complete their projects. He’s looking at some alternative funding models, such as Project Shop Class started this year by the Construction Foundation of BC and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) to replace things such as a tire changer for the automotive program and a thickness planer for the wood shop.

He may be on to a good thing.

Last month, the Construction Foundation kicked off its inaugural fundraising event, with the support of WorkSafe BC, the BC Building Trades, the BC Construction Employers and the New Car Dealers Association of BC. It raised nearly $300,000 and is looking to raise another $9 million to help 115 B.C. schools update their shop equipment.

Project Shop Class spokesperson Abigail Fulton, a vice-president with BCCA, said schools are critical to preparing students for the working world and potential employers need skilled trades workers. The fundraising campaign is aimed at filling the gap in shop class equipment that can’t be handled by cash-strapped school districts.

“We thought it was important to step up to the plate to provide equipment that’s safer and more interesting,” she said.

“We want to attract more kids into at least considering a trade and we think, at a broader level, it’s important for kids to learn about the trades.”

Working with a group of technology education teachers, Project Shop Class will also come up with standards for outfitting shop classes to facilitate buying in bulk and to make sure all schools have the same quality technology. Schools with the greatest need will get the money first.

“We see this as a couple-of-year process. The more help we can give, the better,” Fulton said.

Pope doesn’t know yet if Centennial is on the list of needy schools. But he hopes some equipment will come his way as he prepares class for the new school. Equally important, he hopes that individuals and companies, many with ties to Centennial, will consider purchasing equipment from a wish list on the Project Shop Class website (projectshopclass.com) for their old school.

“In these difficult times, we have to look at all options to be as successful as we can,” Pope said.

Centennial, Coquitlam

• Goal: $52,627

• For: equipment to replace old or outdated equipment in shop classes before moving to new school

Terry Fox, Port Coquitlam

• Goal: $52,445

• For: equipment to start a Trades Exploration class for girls and expand a stagecraft program

Dr. Charles Best, Coquitlam

• Goal: $21,915

• For: equipment to start a Skills Explorations program requiring new tools for carpentry, electrical, plumbing and drywall

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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