GREENSBURG–Industrial Arts students at Kiowa County High School have been working hard in the shop recently to complete their woodshop projects, work that had to be postponed due to COVID-19.


“We’re getting some closure,” said Peter Kern, KCHS shop teacher. “I have a much better perspective now that we are actually getting some [projects] done.”


Kern said his classroom was basically non-existent during the school shutdown. He wanted his students to be able to focus on their core classes without adding the stress of another class. He filmed weekly update videos for some of his classes to show them new techniques and keep them updated. As the guidelines for social distancing have been relaxed throughout the state of Kansas, students were able to get back in the shop towards the end of May and beginning of June. So far most students have been able to finish their projects according to Kern, with just a few left to be completed.


Though many schools around the state have dropped classes such as woodworking, at KCHS the hands-on shop and tech courses are popular with students. This year freshman Boyd Lothman and Alex Redecop, along with sophomores Jordan Smith and Connor Pore built TV stands. Sophomores Bryson Brown and Caydan Pore and juniors Luke Ballard and James Brack all completed beds last week. Sophomore Addison Sherer finished a coffee table that doubles as a storage chest, while senior Ashlind Gumpenberger built a wardrobe. Gage McDonald, senior, completed a rustic bar/table that featured a concrete top. Fellow senior Brandon Boyles completed a dresser and two nightstands to go along with a bed frame and dresser he made in previous years.


“Mr. Kern has taught me, along with my fellow classmates, what it takes to create a quality, highly detailed product,” said Boyles.


The KCHS shop program is not only unique it it’s offering, but it has won a multitude of state awards under Kern’s leadership. In 2019 at the Fort Hays State University Industrial Arts Fair, the KCHS crew won the Ross Beach Sr. Award for Outstanding Technology Program. An abundance of individual awards have been won by students as well.


For most of them, the dedication of their teacher has been just as important as the actual skills learned in the classes.


“Sometime I would get relatively close to the deadline, but Mr. Kern was always persistent in having his students finish on time even if that meant he had to come in after hours,” said Boyles.