FHC’s woodworking class helps students to find their passions in life

Tucked in one of the back corners of FHC’s expansive layout is what most students would refer to as “the art hallway.”

Instantly, when stepping into this creative space, you can feel the positive energy flowing from one end of the hallway to the other. 

While not typically referred to as an art class, engineering and architecture make up one of the many rooms that fabricate FHC’s aptitude for all forms of art. Someone that inspires students on a daily basis to create and think outside of the box is the headteacher for these broad mediums of self-expression: Rob Miedema. 

“The only class I really liked in high school was drafting, which was pretty much the same thing as the classes I teach now, just back then, it was pencil and paper,” Miedema said. “When I went to college and things started to move onto computers, I found out how much I loved using them. I also found how my brain works as an engineer and how the things around me work and function as well.”

While Miedema found his calling in life through his high school class, he now teaches young adults to, hopefully, do the same thing. Miedema’s fourth hour is made up of a vast variety of classifications under the broad title of architecture—there are a variety of subcategories that students can learn about for a semester or more. 

“I think [students] love my class because it’s so self-paced,” Miedema said. “It’s very laid back—it’s more of a work environment [compared to other classes where you get a] lecture to learn. The students come into class, and they talk to each other, have fun, and get their work done. I’d like to think of this class as much more of a work environment.”

The overall feeling of individuality presented to each student makes Miedema’s fourth hour so unique from other courses available at FHC. Having this class be self-paced and reliant is one of the key factors as to why most students participate in courses such as Advanced Architecture—junior Sophie Kovachevich can fully support this.

“[Advanced Architecture] is pretty chill,” Sophie said. “Because my fourth hour is made up of a lot of different engineering classes, it’s really a lot of independent work. I really liked the class last year, and I thought that I don’t really have any other electives that are calling out to me so, I just figured continuing in architecture would be fun.”

Most students will look to their art classes as an escape from the major stressors of high school and, obviously, Miedema’s engineering classes do just that. The majority of his students look to their fourth hour as a time to work for themselves and create things that they actually enjoy and are proud of.

“I honestly have no clue what I’m going to create next,” Sophie laughed, “but, right now, I’m working on drawing a cabin. [My inspiration] was how I associate big families with these types of houses—I think having a big family in the future would be really cool.”

While Sophie can take inspiration from anywhere, she can also take an idea and make it a reality just based on a single thought and some persistence. While other students might have joined the class out of the boredom of their monotonous schedules, Sophie’s push to join the class came from her very own family.

“My mom definitely influenced me on taking architecture in the first place,” Sophie said. “Because of this class, I’ve thought about [pursuing this career or taking college courses in the future]. I’m not completely sure what I want to do, but because of this class, it’s definitely something that I would be interested in.”

I can see myself taking another class similar to this one in college. I highly enjoy the creative freedom it gives me in order to make projects that I feel inspired by.”

— Bella Beckering

While Sophie was guided into her experience by her mom, senior Bella Beckering was persuaded by one of her peer’s involvement in the class.

“I found out about this class because my good friend purchased a van during quarantine and decided to convert it into a living space to travel the country,” Bella said. “In order to utilize her time in the most efficient way, she takes two hours with Mr. Miedema, and she asked me to be in one of the classes to help her when I could. It’s her project, but I hope [that] when it’s complete I get to go on a couple of trips with her.” 

While her year has consisted of building utilities, installing new lock systems, working with solar power, and painting, Bella is just grateful that she’s been able to help out her friend, senior Grace Collins, on a project that will change her life forever.

While Bella isn’t taking a traditional woodworking class, her experience is slightly different from those who signed up for just that. But, Bella and Grace do get to use the same tools as their peers, and they still get to do so much more. 

“[All of the hard work we’ve put in] is very rewarding because we’re creating things that can be used on a daily basis from scraps,” Bella said. “It’s almost relaxing to, after a long day, head down to Mr. Miedema’s room and put all of my energy into finishing whatever project Grace wants me to work on.”

Students will claim that their core classes are inefficient and won’t help outside of school, but Bella thinks that engineering has been completely worth her time and is a prime example of learning to help her outside of the classroom.

“Almost everything I have learned in this class are things that I can apply to my everyday life,” Bella said. “I’m not sure that many other students learn how to use a heat gun to tint windows or use solar panels at school. But, I would one-hundred percent say that they are skills that I wouldn’t normally learn during the school day. This class has taught me more life skills than all of my other classes combined.”