Seventh and eighth grade students in Paul Martin’s Intro to Technology class at Ferrucci Junior High in Puyallup all brought home a handmade key holder — complete with their family name laser-engraved — as a gift to their parents for Christmas.
What made these gifts extra special was the process in which they were made and how the material used to make them was sourced.
The key holders were made from cedar direct from two cedar trees that were cut down in October after Principal Brian Fosnick said they were rotting in the middle and deemed a safety hazard to students and invasive to the sidewalk, bus line, and drainage in front of the school.
When Martin heard that the trees would be cut down he acted quickly and asked the Puyallup School District’s operations team if he could take the cedar, cut it up into logs, and use it for class projects for his students.
“Nobody wants to see beautiful cedar trees come down, so I thought we could use the wood,” Martin said.
Fosnick and Mario Casello, the district’s chief operations officer, thought it was a perfectly fine idea. On an early Saturday morning, Martin met the district’s operations ground crew with his personal tractor to help cut down the cedar tree into logs and then brought them to the back of his classroom to be stored.
Using a portable sawmill loaned from a friend, Martin cuts the logs down to usable sizes for his students to then cut into shapes for individual projects.
We’re happy to have the cedar. You can’t find the same quality of cedar at a hardware store.
Paul Martin, teacher at Ferrucci Junior High
“We’re happy to have the cedar,” Martin said. “You can’t find the same quality of cedar at a hardware store.”
Martin said the school district’s standard practice is to purchase pine wholesale for wood shop classes. Now, Martin will convert to using cedar. Martin said cedar is more expensive than pine, so having access to the freshly cut cedar will save him hundreds of dollars.
“This represents a couple thousand board feet of beautiful cedar,” he said. “This will last us for two to three years.”
Martin, the gateway to technology teacher at both Ferrucci and Ballou junior high schools, said he plans to share the cedar with the architecture, construction, and engineering classes at Rogers High School.
Martin said the ability to cut down the cedar trees and then convert the cedar into usable wood for projects provided a learning opportunity to students. He said the students learned where the wood comes from, that it doesn’t just come from a hardware store.
Skyler Seymour, 13, an eighth-grader in Martin’s class, in early December was finishing up his own independent project, a bird feeder, using the cedar.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to reuse resources,” Seymour said, referring to the use of the cedar. “It’s easier to cut because it’s softer.”
Seymour had worked on his bird feeder project for a week and a half, often coming to the shop during his lunch period to build. Now, he was ready to sand it and bring it home.