Dream It, Build It, Shred It: Gone Boarding


Courtesy of FHC Gone Boarding

Dream it. Build it. Shred it.

As the new Gone Boarding class’ motto advertises, the hands-on course is all about using your creative juices to create anything you could ever desire to ride, and it is taking FHC by storm.

This fall is the first time we ran gone boarding at Central High,” said Woodshop and Gone Boarding teacher Robert Miedema. “BJ Maartney and Bill Curtis, two teachers at Forest Hills Eastern, came up with the idea. They wanted to provide an opportunity for students to build and ride. Dream it, build it, shred it has been their tagline for the course.”

This tagline (or as students call it, a lifestyle), has inspired teachers and students alike. The idea for the 2 hour block class came from Curtis’ and Maartney’s loves and knowledge of adventure sports, and their desires to know how to design, create and build. Tying those things together and narrowing their research down to 4 boarding sports laid the foundation for this class and their dreams for it.

Matching its success at FHE, Gone Boarding is wildly popular among the seniors to whom the course is offered. Students focus on surfing, longboarding, skiing/snowboarding, and paddleboarding, building each board at some point during the semester while working in a group of three. This variation allows for each kind of student to gain a trophy from the class and work they do.

“The pride in the finish product each students has when they leave following the culmination of their hard work is amazing to see,” said Miedema. “They learned how to design, build and ride, each of the core components of the class. It’s an opportunity most will never have again.”

Most people would think Gone Boarding sounds like a dream, and they would be right. What other class lets you take two hours of your day to go experiment and go on adventures with your own creations?

This class is really an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity to hands on learn how various boards are built, how to ride those boards, build your own board and you’re given time to ride it,” said Miedema. “All this and it fits neatly into your school day and you get credit for it. In my opinion, I can’t think of a better way to spend part of your school day.”

Not only qualifying for a VPAA but also a senior math credit, the only prerequisite is Fitness For Life. Because of this, many students may show interest in signing up; but as Miedema says, the class is one for those with passion.

“Some kids love one or more of those activities and some love any type of adventure sport,” Miedema said. “Some love the engineering, design and building. The class has a wide variety of students with huge range of interests and skill level.”

Seniors Connor Reppuhn and Cassidy Terhorst tend to lean towards the athletic side of the spectrum, both citing the ability to go out and have fun with their boards as the highlight of the class, although it does not come without a price.

“We are tested a lot on how much we can handle,” Terhorst said. “If it’s the cold water or huge waves or a 3 mile long prone paddle or paddle boarding upstream the Grand River, we have to be ready.”

Reppuhn agrees, saying the hardest thing he has done in class so far has been a 1.5 mile paddle test up the Grand River using hands for paddles. However, once the field trips began, the fun of the class really started.

The group goes out for their two hour block 2 or 3 days each week depending on how their work in the shop is going and on the weather.  They have paddle boarded on the Thornapple River, Versluis Lake and the Grand River, will ride their longboards at Roselle Park and around school, and have surfed in Lake Michigan at Grand Haven City Beach when the waves were big.

“My favorite field trip so far was going out to Grand Haven for a full day and surfing the Great Lake’s waves,” Reppuhn said. “It was an incredible experience. I have never surfed before, and being a guy who has played 8 sports, there is nothing like it.”

With double the hours together than a normal class not including field trips, the students enrolled have all spent a lot of time together building bonds along with boards. This close-knit group even created an Instagram account for the class, advertising their field trips and creations through pictures and captioning them with, of course, #DreamItBuildItShredIt.

“[Gone Boarding] is just an awesome class and it has helped me make some pretty special relationships with people through all these experiences,” said Terhorst. “It is a class like none other.”