With help from a Hive grant, Emsworth’s Holy Family Academy introduced a new program this summer, where incoming freshmen students got a chance to build their own school desks. Part of their summer orientation camp, students got a lesson in both hard work and in STEAM principles as they built the desks they’d use for the next four years.

“Everyone has something to do after high school, but it’s not always college,” Sister Linda said. “The kids might not ever think about carpentry as a career, but we’re exposing them to it. Our students shouldn’t feel like second-class citizens if they choose not to go to college.”

Desk parts were pre-cut for students, but students smoothed and buffed the edges and cut notches in the wood to attach the parts. The uniform desks also were engraved with crosses on the desktop and base, with side panels carved to resemble a cathedral tower. Students will disassemble and stain the desks before the start of school year and decorate their own nameplates.

The assignment not only teaches the students a new skill, Sister Linda said, but also holds them responsible for their property while giving them a sense of pride in building something they’ll use every day.

Those invaluable real world skills that students are learning are central to the program’s mission. Not just the hard skills of working with tools, but the soft skills as well.

“One of our goals as a school is to provide our students with work-ready skills while they are still in high school,” principal Ron Zangaro said. “By building their own desks, students will learn about accountability and responsibility along with the pride that comes from accomplishing a task.”

Read the whole article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website.