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School’s Woodworking Awards: Mark Greensburg, KS Tornado Recovery

Lavergne, TN – In his own words, Industrial Technology Instructor Peter Kern was blown away when his students at Kiowa County High School, Greensburg, Kansas, won the “outstanding technology program of 2012” award at the 53rd Annual Western Kansas Technology Fair.

This achievement is remarkable because five years earlier – on May 4, 2007 –the small rural town of Greensburg literally was blown away by an EF5 tornado. The devastating storm destroyed 95 percent of the town and killed 11 people. In a matter of seconds, the K-12 school facility was demolished, along with 960 homes, 125 businesses, and several city and county buildings. Greensburg was declared a federal disaster area.

The damage to the shop after the tornado.

Out of the school’s 10 woodworking entries at this year’s tech fair, seven were awarded medals for being top projects in their division. The plaque for the best multi-pupil project also came home with Kiowa County for a five-piece living room set students designed and built as a group project for the community’s new senior center. The set included a large entertainment center, coffee table, end tables and a large bookcase.

The senior citizen lounge center.

In the wake of the tornado, the board of education put temporary facilities in place. These included 28 classrooms housed in 14 mobile trailers, four offices, a temporary industrial arts building and a multi-purpose facility used as a cafeteria, gym and auditorium.

Holding class in the temporary shop.

JET® and Powermatic® also stepped up to the plate by donating essential woodworking shop tools including a Powermatic table saw, dust collectors, drill press and lathe, as well as a JET band saw, oscillating spindle sander, horizontal/vertical edge sander, stationary mortiser and an assortment of clamps.

After the tornado, woodworking students started the next school year working out of a 7’ x 14’ trailer. They used portable power tools to help build shelves and bookcases for classrooms and libraries. Later that year, they moved into a temporary 40’ x 80’ building, which was used for four years until the new school was completed in 2011.

The new shop.

“Today, our students work in a 80’ x 120’ building that includes a finish room and an air-conditioned classroom,” said Kern. “With JET and Powermatic’s assistance, students now have the opportunity to learn by using top-of-the-line woodworking equipment.

True to form, Kern’s students devoted the first five weeks of the current school year to building cabinets for their new shop and classroom. The shop cabinets serve as tool and supply storage, but are build around the table saws to also double as outfeed tables. A 14′ stretch of base cabinets in the shop now serves as a crosscutting station for the miter saw.

The shop and classroom cabinets subsequently were awarded superior ratings and medals at this year’s tech fair. Following the completion of cabinetry for the school, students planned out their individual projects for the year. Their projects ranged from small night stands to large entertainment centers and dining room tables. Two students even built custom kitchen cabinets for their families’ new homes.

“This really is a exceptional group of high schoolers,” said Joan Duvall, Director of Product Management-Wood “Our investment of equipment toward their woodworking education already has paid off many times over by their contributions to their school and community.”

About Walter Meier (Manufacturing), Inc.

Walter Meier (Manufacturing), Inc. is a subsidiary of Walter Meier Group, a dynamic organization that delivers top quality manufacturing and climate control technologies worldwide. Walter Meier (Manufacturing), Inc. is headquartered in LaVergne, TN, and is the proud owner of WILTON®, JET®, and POWERMATIC® brands. The company has more than 4,000 dealers nationwide. From metalworking and woodworking machinery to material handling equipment and hand tools, the company’s industry-leading products offer unsurpassed workmanship, performance and durability. This dedication to excellence has made Walter Meier (Manufacturing), Inc. a preferred supplier throughout the industrial marketplace.

For additional information contact:

Mike Mangan, MKM Comm.

Joan Duvall, Powermatic

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