Early graduation has senior tabling project for now

One of the senior projects taken on last year was refurbishing benches in the high school and middle school courtyard. James Shilts and Rowen Wiederspohn cleaned, sanded and repainted the benches. Though it helped beautify the open space, it still needed something.

This year, Nick Allen chose to add to the courtyard by building a table and attaching benches that students could sit at to eat lunch or do homework or just relax when the weather permits.

Allen got the idea for a table and benches when shop class teacher Winston Davies texted him a similar table-and-benches design while on a trip.

"He sent me a picture and said, 'You should do something like this for your senior project. It would be a good one,'" Allen said. "That's where it started from."

The table will be 40-inches by 40-inches square, with attached benches on all four sides. The tabletop, which will be 3-inches thick, and benches will be made of red cedar. A welded metal frame will tie the structure together and it will weigh approximately 275 to 350 pounds, estimated Allen.

Once finished, the table will most likely be mounted in cement in one of the grassy areas in the courtyard. The wood itself may be left untreated.

"Red cedar on its own, unstained and untreated, holds up pretty well," Allen said. "It might just be bare cedar. I'm not 100% sure yet."

Allen has put in about "seven or eight hours" in transporting materials and planning the project and has a long way to go before finishing. However, one thing could hinder its completion. Allen graduated early last Friday.

"I think it's something I can keep working on partially," Allen said. "Mr. Burkhart (the principal) said he'd pass me as long as I had the base part built and have a plan of action for what to do afterward. I might not even have to finish the table part of it as long as the materials get delivered to the school and the plans for it are carried out."

Allen has taken shop classes three out of his four years. He took art instead of shop in his sophomore year, but he's always had an affinity for building things.

"Last year, as a beginning welder, he built a new welding bench for the shop," Davies said. "He's also helped with a bunch of smaller projects. Currently, he is building a flatbed for his dad's truck. He's got a ways to go yet, but he assured us he'd come back after the (holiday) break to finish it up."

Davies said there is some steel fabrication left on the table and then Allen was waiting for some wood to be milled by his dad, Mike Allen.

When most students are busy with homework and taking tests, working on extracurricular activities and eagerly awaiting summer, Allen said he's planning on going right to work.

"I'm going to work with my dad for a while, then in March I'm going longlining," he said. "Then I'm going to seine during the summer. Then I'm going to go to WyoTech next fall (in Laramie, Wyoming)."

Allen said he wants to see how working full time goes for him before deciding on any long-term future plans, but he does want to earn a certificate in diesel tech as something to fall back on. "There's never not going to be a demand for that," he said. "But I plan to fish until I get tired of it and want to do something different or my body doesn't let me anymore."

As for sleeping in after he graduated?

"Probably not. I don't sleep in," he said.


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