Red Deer Public School District

Raffle Gives ‘Old Trees New Roots’

Support for Foundation Equity Fund and the Sawing for Schools program.

By: Lexi Wright

Hoping to bring his passion for woodworking to Middle School students, Shawn Moore, owner of Trimmed-Line Tree Services, has developed a program to show students how to take logs and transform them into incredible wood furniture projects.

Sawing for Schools is a mentorship program that allows students in grades six to eight to learn and demonstrate their woodworking skills, but also explore their passions and possible career opportunities.

Moore is a father himself, and an active one at that. Rather than spending time working with computers and cell phones, Moore would rather be out and about fishing with his children or playing sports like soccer or baseball and of course, working with wood.

“I was inspired by my daughter to start Sawing for Schools. [Red Deer Public] asked me when I pitched the program, ‘would that be run at a High School shop level?’ and I said ‘no, my daughter's in grade six, I want to start it there’”.

The program received an overwhelming response when the concept was first rolled out. Students were shown around a lumber mill and learned that lumber comes from trees, not just the neighborhood hardware store.

With the popularity of the idea growing, Moore decided to turn his dream into an after school club.

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Shawn Moore has expressed a passion for woodworking and describes himself as “being on the end of a chainsaw” since 1992.

“Rather than [having students] build a small project that might be viewed as something easy, we wanted to give an experience to our students where everybody would awe over and ask ‘how did these students accomplish this?’”

Projects completed by the students include a live-edge dining room table set, a bench, and two amazing sheds - each one worth over $20,000.

These unique woodworking pieces are now being raffled off in order to raise money for the Sawing for Schools program and the Red Deer Public School Foundation equity fund.  

Bruce Buruma, Executive Director for the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, says the equity fund will help bridge the gap for financially disadvantaged families

“Increasingly, because of some of the complexities in our society and partly with the way the economy has gone, there are some real barriers that families just can't afford and therefore, we need to fill those gaps” says Burruma.

Field trips and swim lessons are important parts of kids reaching their full potential, and the equity fund, along with other school supports such as breakfast and snack programs, are aiming to make sure that some of the most basic needs of students are met.

The goal of the raffle is to raise over $50,000 but more important to Moore is his vision, which has already been achieved.

“I think we've already accomplished the dream of Sawing for Schools. Just the response [has] changed my perspective on a community. I have friends, lots of friends in Sawing for Schools that are in grade six, seven and eight and that's pretty cool”.

Moore states that purchasing a raffle ticket will not only help to give back to the schools, but also continue the growth and importance of hands-on skills for students.

“Great grandpa rolling up on a piece of land with some trees on it, taking them down and planting some more trees is about as old as time. It’s a way to connect our older generation, interact with our planet the way that we probably should and leave something for tomorrow”, says Moore.

Rob Willms, CTF teacher at Central Middle School, is completing his first year in the woodworking shop. He says the Sawing for Schools program has benefited the students in a variety of ways.

“Giving students this age an introduction to woodworking may open their eyes to opportunities down the line for them. [Woodworking] is a lifetime skill that can save them money later in life and/or become a hobby offering satisfaction and relaxation”, says Willms.

Perhaps the biggest surprise with the Sawing for Schools program was that over 80% of students involved were female. Willms says this is because of their curiosity, as well as their enthusiasm for learning about the environment.

“They were very interested in trying something new that interested them. Some came out for the social aspect, others came out to learn new skills, yet others joined the program to see what it was all about. They were dedicated.”

 

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Grade 8 students work with live edge lumber which is a style of furniture where the designer incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the finished piece.

Darrin DeMale, Principal of Central Middle School has embraced the Sawing for Schools program, stating that the program provides students with unlimited potential.

“This project has been able to develop a unique learning environment both inside and out of the mainstream classrooms that challenge our students to think critically and creatively while collaborating”, says DeMale.

DeMale encourages the public to participate in the raffle and support the education community.

"With the funds earned, they will be split 50/50 between the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools and our equity project and Sawing for Schools, which will allow us to build our program and replace or add to our machinery within our shop”.

Raffle tickets can be purchased at Central Middle School or by calling 403-342-3751. Tickets are for $10 each, or 3 for $25.