Revisiting the Idea of Industrial and Practical Arts

Sage Haddock, Sofya Brown , Reporters

Have you ever wanted to learn how to cook or weld metal? You can, but not at Harwood. You’d have to take a bus ride to the Central Vermont Career Center (CVCC) to find a class for these skills. Thirteen years ago, the industrial arts classes left Harwood and never came back. The culinary and textile arts left seven years ago. 

Harwood has changed over the years to fit the number of students and classes. When Harwood was offering industrial arts some were taught in the basement of the school, while others were in the middle school wing. Now most of the classrooms are being used for storage of Harwood’s multiple maintenance vehicles such as mowers and Danni’s golf cart. The garage has been turned into the ski shed for the nordic team during the winter. A smaller wood shop remains but is mostly used for making sets for plays and musicals these days. The rest of the wood shop rooms were turned into a gym and fitness room for athletics and the cardio class.

Less than six percent of Harwood students go to CVCC. The curriculum suits their academic goals. However, there are other students who aren’t planning on a career in industrial arts but would definitely like to experience those classes if they were here. Junior Tim Wilson says, “I absolutely would take woodworking.” Younger students agree. Sophomores Kai Haddock and Allie Thibault say “Of course. Why wouldn’t we like them to come back? They sound like great classes.”

Is it possible to bring these classes back? Well, Counselor Erin Dezell seems to think so. She says, “If part of our wide range of differing programming includes the industrial arts, things like woodshop, is what I’m imagining, I think those are great classes to offer. As long as they’re meeting the needs of our students in the Harwood community.”

Classes like woodshop are important to have. Vermont is in dire need of carpenters and metal workers. With the large worker shortages caused by the pandemic, these jobs have been under stress to get more personnel. Employers have raised pay and benefits to draw in more employees. If students had the choice to take these classes at Harwood, they would not have to make the commute to CVCC. They could gain the skills necessary to gain entry level access to the workforce. It might also help them decide if they’d like to explore more about those careers.

Harwood offers job shadowers and internships for most industrial arts so if students wanted to see what the workforce looks like as a carpenter or a mechanic they have the resources already to do that though Harwood. Erin says “I want us at Harwood to dream that we will continue to offer a robust and wide range of courses that get our students excited about learning. And should the school community decide that there’s a need to offer classes like Home Ec or Woodshop, then, you know, why not?”