Grade 11 Duchess Park student Harling Koughan chats about his bandsaw box project with Willy Manson of Stinger Welding and the Construction Foundation of B.C.

Manson examines one of the box's pullout drawers. 

Koughan used birch and walnut wood to create the box's tree design. 

Construction Foundation Fair connects students, industry leaders

Information exchanges can happen in any number of locations. This one took place at various spots in Duchess Park Secondary School and wrapped up in the woodworking shop.

Last week, Duchess hosted a Construction Foundation Fair in which members of provincial and Prince George industry stopped by to walk through the school, have a look at student projects and chat with those students about their future ambitions. School District No. 57’s Doug Borden and Rene Ragetli of the Construction Foundation of British Columbia helped assemble the event, on the heels of a similar one last May at College Heights Secondary.

“I want adults engaging with youth so they understand that youth are vibrant and full of possibilities,” said Borden, who works for the school district but coordinates the Central Interior Regional Career Technical Centre based at the College of New Caledonia. “Really, that is what they saw, and a school tour where they got to see how education has changed. Three of the (industry) people here were Duchess Park graduates so it was neat for them to come home and revisit their memories and see kids not in chairs and in rows. They saw kids doing programming through robotics, and just the projects. They’re not grandfather clocks anymore. They’re unique, they’re valid and they meet kids’ needs.

“We showed them the new math curriculum and how that was working so they had a really nice tour and got a great appreciation for what’s available in schools for kids,” Borden added. “And we got that specialized help – connecting kids with possible futures, future places to apply, building those bridges.”

Some of the industry folks who joined Ragetli at Duchess Park were Willy Manson of the Construction Foundation of B.C., Cory Klein, Scott Bone and Maria O’Neill-Plouffe of the Northern Regional Construction Association, Peter Stever of Ole’s Woodworking, Sheldon Boyes and Believe Ikechi of IDL Projects, as well as Stephen Fancy and Jared Kipping of Northern Superior Woodworks and Countertops. Fancy is one of the Duchess Park graduates and was also part of the Career Technical Centre program.

On the student side of the information exchange, Harling Koughan was among those who took advantage of the opportunity to connect with industry professionals. The Grade 11 Koughan made a bandsaw box, attractively faced with birch and walnut wood, and spent a good chunk of time in conversation with Manson in the woodworking shop. Manson, who is also the founder of Stinger Welding, was interested in Koughan’s work and gave some tips to the talented teenager.

“I asked him a few questions on what (I should use) for the handles on my drawers and what type of stain I should use,” Koughan said. “I asked a few people who came over and I got some different opinions. The general gist was ‘don’t stain the walnut because it looks really nice’ and then it was my choice if I wanted to do the plywood part.”

Koughan isn’t sure if he will pursue a career in woodworking. For now, he’s just having fun with it.

“You can build whatever you want,” he said. “You just come up with an idea and you’re like, ‘Let’s try and build that.’ All I saw was a picture (of a bandsaw box) when I was trying to build mine and it turned out pretty well.”