COBWEB CORNERS: Three cheers for Coronado

By Mel McFarland

       After reading last week's story about Coronado High School bringing back its wood shop class, I had to do this story! I started teaching at Coronado during its first semester in the building. I was a student teacher in Dan Johns' wood shop. Dan and I even took classes together when I got my master's degree, even though I was not an industrial education teacher all that long. I was already teaching fine art because the district where I taught was eliminating industrial education at the middle school level. My background was in woodworking, and I had planned to teach at the junior high level. Teaching at Coronado was interesting, having wood classes and one metal shop class, but in the end I never taught in a high school again.
       My first job was in South Dakota where I taught all of the different industrial education subjects. The school had four different shops: metals, plastics, wood and drafting. There were five shop teachers, and I was number five and used the other teachers' rooms and also taught math. When I came to Colorado, I taught woods and drafting - later drafting, art and in a few years math.
       I can only praise Coronado for bringing back a class that children need. School District 11 started its first manual training classes a hundred years ago in a building not far from present day Palmer High School, and turned out hundreds of boys (and later, girls) with the ability to use hand and machine tools. The more time spent at a key pad on a computer, the more we find that there is still a quite important need for physical activity. While sports activity suits some, the idea of making something you can hold in your hand suits others, Schools have looked to eliminate the expense of shops and even art rooms, but computer labs can be even more costly because the equipment becomes obsolete so quickly. We need more of what Gary Hilty has brought to Coronado,
       On my way to work at the Cog Railway, I drive by a house built by students from Coronado. It has been remodeled over the years, and I do not know if they built others, but I do know there are lots of other houses in town built by the vocational classes at Palmer before Pikes Peak Community College took over the program.
       The old oak tree starts with just an acorn!