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Bench work brings learning

Renaissance High School students work on leg pieces for their bench. Photos provided (click for larger version)
June 27, 2012 - Two geometry classes at Renaissance High School put their knowledge to work as they created eight wooded benches.

It started with Kathy Yeloushan, the school's grant writer, asking geometry teacher Sara Mastie what she would like to do.

"She searches the entire internet for anybody willing to sponsor any project," said Mastie. "I said I would like the kids to do something hands on." She also wanted the activity to combine math with a skill students could use.

Yeloushan went to work and found Lowe's to support the project with a $2,030 grant.

The students took a field trip to Lowe's in White Lake, and the crew showed them the store and the materials they were purchasing. They also explained and showed the students how to do the work at Lowe's.

"It was a pleasure having the kids come out and come to our store," Rob Steffens, a Lowe's employee added. "They learned the whole experience. Their faces were happy. They had a great time and so did we."

Also, two Lowe's employees came to the high school to help the students construct the benches.

The students spread the project over the course of a trimester as they measured out the pieces, cut the wood, stained, sanded and glossed it and put cushions on top.

"They had to figure everything out," Mastie added. "They had to put braces underneath so they had to make sure they were parallel. We had to level. They really put geometry to work."

Once the benches were finished, they called different organizations in need of a bench.

The benches were donated to Clarkston Community Education, Clarkston Methodist Church, Clarkston United Methodist Church, North Sashabaw Elementary, and St. Trinity Lutheran Church, the high school, and Renaissance High School's "Chair"-ity Auction.

"Thank you," said Pastor Kendall Schaeffer from St. Trinity Lutheran Church as he accepted the bench.

The benches usually sell for over $100 and showed the students what they could do if they put effort and time into something they make.

Principal Billie Pambold encouraged the students to think of more project ideas.

"Let's do more with this to learn," she added. "This can be more fun than the traditional way to learn."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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