GREENVILLE, Maine — Greenville High School eliminated its industrial arts program during budget cuts years ago, but some students are back to learning the basics of carpentry thanks to the Jobs for Maine Graduates program and a local volunteer.
It was by chance that Larry Farrington, 57, of Moosehead Junction Township, a carpenter who retired after 28 years as staff development coordinator at the Maine State Prison, found himself volunteering at Greenville High School. As president of the Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition, Farrington said one of the coalition members suggested that he contact the local school to see if students would be interested in making a sign for the club.
The project was appealing to JMG students, so Farrington offered his help and his power tools. The sign was a success, and Farrington agreed to stay on and teach them more of the trade. He now volunteers from four to 12 hours a week.
“This is just a way of bringing the community together,” JMG teacher Rebecca Bardosy said Friday. Bardosy said Hammond Lumber Co. donated two pallets of leftover cuts so the students could practice on smaller projects. She envisioned the students working on birdhouses or small projects, but with Farrington’s encouragement and advice, the students made a variety of items ranging from bookcases to display cases.
Last winter, JMG students received a $1,000 grant from the Oak Grove School, and the students decided to use the money to build a storage shed. They now are putting the finishing touches on the shed, which has been sold to a local resident.
The proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase materials to build another storage shed next fall to sell, according to Bardosy.
“They may not all go on to be carpenters, but they will have to be able to make small repairs in their lives,” and this program will help them do that, Bardosy said.
Farrington said the students are a bit leery of using the power tools at first, but then they find their “aha” moment.
“It’s very rewarding for me to see the kids get to that ‘aha’ moment,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for them to be involved in activities that build self-confidence.”
Carpentry skills, learning how to balance a checkbook and live within a budget, sewing, plumbing, electrical work, and cooking are skills needed for a lifetime, yet they have been eliminated because of budget cuts, according to Farrington.
So it’s his job to share his knowledge to help give students some life skills, Farrington said. He believes that there are other retirees in his community who could do the same.
He said he was born and raised in South China, a small town where each person was part of a community and pitched in to make it better. It’s a value that he now carries on in Greenville.