Gone Boarding pushes students out of their comfort zone and into the world of action sports


Since the year of 2016, a unique, interactive class like no other has taken its roots in the hidden woodshop near the back of the building: Gone Boarding. 

Spending class periods tearing through waves, rolling down sidewalks, or paddling down rivers, the class Gone Boarding—taught by Robert Miedema—is becoming more highly sought after by students. 

Throughout the semester, Miedema’s students work tirelessly to build boards of all kinds. Everything from surfboards and paddleboards, to skis and snowboards, can be made in the class; students even get to travel around the state in order to learn how to truly ride and make use of the boards they work so hard to create. 

“They had been doing Gone Boarding at Eastern for three years previous, and we finally had the opportunity to do it at all three Forest Hills schools,” Miedema said. “We jumped on the opportunity to get involved and try something new over here.”

As the students are working on some of their first projects, Miedema likes to focus on water boards for the first portion of the semester. As they have been building their boards, they have traveled to places including Action Wake Park for wakeboarding and Grand Haven for surfing. 

“It is a class that is super unique in the sense that the kids are getting dirty, they are working crazy hard, they are building some really cool things, and they are also experiencing how to use those things, how to surf, and how to wakeboard,” Miedema said. “It’s an opportunity to understand what you’re doing, how you’re building it, and how it all plays out in the real world.”

For students, the class proves to be a refreshing environment that stands out from the often boring and repetitive core classes that take up the majority of a student’s schedule. 

“This class is different because you are not sitting at a desk for a full hour,” senior Mandy Ehrlich said. “You are either working on your project or getting outside and being active or adventurous.”

Along with the adventures may come challenges for some students. If a student has never participated in a particular activity, it can be daunting to take the class and learn so many new—and possibly intimidating—skills. 

Jumping into the wicked surf off the beach of Grand Haven or grabbing hold of the high-speed cable at Action are certainly scary events for some, but Miedema loves to see his students grow and commit themselves to every task his class faces them with. 

“I think one of the most unique and interesting things as a teacher is seeing kids that have no idea about surfing or no idea about building surfboards come in and dive in headfirst,” Miedema said. “They learn about how the board is built, they learn how to make the board, they put a ton of hard work into it, and at the same time, they also actually ride and do it. It is this two-part component in this class where you are doing it but also understanding how it’s been built and how it’s created. So, watching kids kind of develop some perseverance because it’s a lot of hard work is really cool to see.”

Unlike many other core classes, Gone Boarding is truly able to push students outside of their typical comfort zone. 

Whether it be in the water, on the snow, or directly in the shop itself, there are many obstacles students have to overcome in order to find their success by the end of the class. 

“At every activity, you’ll face an obstacle where you have to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing, and that translates to the shop too,” senior Ellie Ingraham said. “I’d never set foot in a woodshop before the first day of senior year, and now I’m halfway done making a surfboard which is crazy to think about.”

Gone Boarding certainly stands out from many other classes in the fact that each and every day is an incredibly hands-on experience. Whether you are being active and physically involved in activities or collaborating with peers on how to build the best products possible, the class proves to be an experience unlike any other. 

“I would recommend this class to anyone and everyone,” Ellie said. “There’s at least one aspect of the class that anyone will fall in love with. The whole experience really is unlike anything I’ve ever gone through in high school, and it’s easily the best decision I’ve made in my whole high school career so far.”