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With a commitment to increasing real-world, skill-based experiences for students, Dexter Community Schools continues to look into introducing new courses at the high school. Two of the latest are Woodshop and Systems of Construction. These probably sound familiar, but they are not currently offered at DHS.

However, that might change come next school year.

Two new course proposals were introduced to the DCS Board of Education at the May 20 meeting. They were introduced by teacher Bill Ivan, who wants to have both courses available at Dexter High School.

In describing Woodshop, Ivan said, “The class would teach tool safety, basic craftsmanship, and usage to all participants. Students will spend the semester familiarizing themselves with the tools, techniques, and processes that encompass woodworking.”

He said before the start of any project, “students will be required to pass a written and practical safety exam.”

The course description says: “Students will engage in different projects, some will be to develop woodworking skills with tangible take-home items, i.e. birdhouse or stool. Other projects will add value to Dexter Community School grounds or the Community, i.e. benches or picnic tables. Each project will consist of an introductory and safety period where students will learn how to safely operate the tools they will use, followed by the practice/design period where we will mock up the necessary components and learn about each of the materials we will be using. Finally, students will execute the project by building the final product and revealing it to the community, school, or family.”

As to why this course is needed, Ivan said in his request, “With the commitment to increasing real-world, skill-based experiences for students, we must allow more opportunities for students to learn safe tool usage and begin to explore the world of trades. We know that these experiences not only support students with current and future goals but also provide joy to the learning experience.”

He said this “course will also allow students to continue to develop their systematic thinking and application.”

As for the description of Systems of Construction, Ivan’s request describes the course this way: “The class would teach the necessary skills needed to build a residential home. Students will learn through a system of modules focusing on each aspect of building a house. The course will be split between class work and hands-on building of modules/models. Topics covered will be job site safety, hand and power tools, foundation and masonry, framing, shingling, siding, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, painting, flooring, cabinets, and trim. This course will focus on real-world applications and real-world skills.”

In answering the question as to why this new course or new resources are necessary, Ivan said “The goal of this program is to provide opportunities on the DCS campus to all interested students: the student who wants to join the trades right out of college, the student who may want to explore Construction Management in college, the student who is exploring possible careers but is undecided; and the student who is interested in learning more about systems of construction.”

He said there is a distinct need for workers in the trades. Citing a May 2023 Bureau of Labor and Statistics report that said 45 percent of workers in the construction industry are over the age of 45, Ivan said this would not be an issue if these workers were being replaced by younger workers; however, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics currently shows that only 9 percent of workers are under the age of 25. This means that demand will continue to increase for people in the trades industry, resulting in a continued climb in wages.

“It also means that as an education system, there is an opportunity to further educate students about opportunities in the trades,” Ivan said in his course request application. “Much of this has to do with lack of exposure. Many folks remember a time when “shop class” was a staple of middle school and high school. The opportunity to participate in these types of classes has drastically decreased.”

The school board is expected to make a decision on these two courses at their next meeting.

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