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Bend HS Wood Shop a Rockin’ Good Time


Starting from scratch, for the past 36 weeks, 50 minutes a day., the advanced woodworking students at Bend High have been hammering away to create a masterpiece.

The project: Build a usable rocking chair. And as the school year creeps to a close, the chairs are taking shape.

But this class is about much more than sanders and sawdust.

“It’s all about critical thinking,” said instructor Steve Stenkamp. “It’s about problem-solving, and it’s really about teaching themselves.”

Stenkamp, a former Bend city councilor, has called the woodworking shop at Bend High his home for the past 12 years. And every year, the class keeps growing.

“My capacity is 30 students, and there are six classes a day,” Stenkamp added.

If you do the math, that’s 180 students every day. Stenkamp says he’s got about 500 who want to take the class. That’s why students like senior Jacob Potter don’t take it for granted.

“I love this class — it’s really great,” Potter said. “It’s my stress reliever. Some kids have sports, but when I come in here, all my built-up tension just goes into a project, and it helps me.”

The same holds true for sophomore Bailey Stevenson, the only girl in Stenkamp’s classes.

“It’s so fun,” Stevenson said. “When I first started the class, I had no idea what any of the tools were. Now I know all of them.”

She’s talking about the equipment to build the chairs. Stenkamp, though, hopes the class gives the students the real tools to thrive in the future.

“There is a huge degree of self pride and self satisfaction — ‘look what I did,'” Stenkamp said. “My guess is, in about 60 years, there is going to be a family feud over who gets Grandpa’s rocking chair.”

Most of the students say they plan on giving their rocking chairs to moms, grandmas and even to dads for this Father’s Day.

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