Ben Wilson, 16, has taken woods classes at Gaston High School for the past 2 years, creating a variety of projects both beautiful and functional. Next year he's hoping to make a guitar. "He does probably the best work of anyone," says woods teacher Wade Sims. "He's really artistic and careful, and he's always taken what he learns here to heart."
Ben was kind enough to share his experience with us:
Why did you decide to take a woods class?
When I was in 7th grade, Mr. Sims had just gotten the wood lathes and I was really intrigued by it, so I decided to sign up. I really liked being able to get to build something and take it home tomorrow.
What do you like about this class?
I like thinking about what I can do in the future, with my career. There's so much you can do with such a vast array of machines and different types of wood. Mr. Sims is a great teacher; he lets us do things instead of just watching him do it, so it's good hands-on learning.
What's your favorite project you've worked on so far?
That would be last year, when I built a cabinet for my grandpa. He's always been there for me, and I actually changed my last name to Wilson for him, so it was really great to be able to create something especially for him. I made it out of pine, routed the name "Wilson" into the top, and added a dark blue inlay. Blue is his favorite color.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The tablesaw. There are so many things you have to keep in mind when you're running that thing. It's kind of menacing with its big blade. We were building new kitchen cabinets for a woman in the community and we had to use the tablesaw a lot, so that's how I overcame my fear of it.
What have you learned?
I've learned I have a lot of tolerance for things that go wrong. You've gotta have patience. Don't give up. Things always go wrong in the shop--things break, things don't come out the way you want--but you have to keep your head up and keep trying.
How is this class different from your other classes?
It's hands-on. You don't have to sit there and take notes. Even the tests are hands-on. This class teaches life lessons.
What would you say to other students who were thinking of taking a class like this?
I'd say do it. Come ready to work hard, and be disciplined. It's slow and tedious at first. Come prepared to work and come prepared to learn. Don't be scared. They'll take care of you.
What are your plans after high school?
I plan to be a school counselor. I want to help others, and I want to show people that if you work hard and keep your head up, you can do anything. You never think you can make something so pretty out of a piece of wood, and I think this applies to people, too. Maybe I'll help send somebody off to college who didn't think they could do it. I'm excited to help people find the potential they have inside, and help them accomplish their dreams.