As he pulled out a tape measure to give a student reassurance he had marked the proper cut line, Mr. Jonathan Rugg, a senior high Technology teacher, reminded his student of the age-old adage, "Measure twice, cut once." If you thought that perfecting measuring and cutting were just skills taught in kindergarten, we'd like to take a moment to introduce you to Residential Systems, a class taught by Mr. Rugg usually every spring that he says is perfect for "anyone who wants to live in a home." During the semester-long block course, Mr. Rugg's students, who he says are usually academically-focused, learn how to do common household construction and repairs, such as electrical wiring, plumbing, framing, and how to measure and cut construction materials with tools. The semester is then capped off with the ground-up construction of a shed, which brings together many of the skills they've learned--while also helping save Exeter taxpayers money. "Our sheds are around the district," he says proudly, as he explains that the grounds crews and athletic teams eagerly snap up the shed his class constructs each year to store equipment conveniently near their fields. Now that his classes have satisfied most of the district's demand for outdoor storage over the years, if all goes well, Mr. Rugg hopes that eventually he can start selling the sheds to interested teachers, staff or community members at cost.
While his projects are usually well planned out for the semester, Mr. Rugg says that the secret of his students' skills and abilities are no longer a well-kept secret, and now it's not uncommon for a construction request to come in from elsewhere in the district. This week, Lorane Principal Mrs. Karen Hodge will take delivery of six handmade picnic benches that she requested for her school to allow elementary kids to sit and eat outside for special events and for the community to use outside of school hours. "It's so special to know they were made by our students and not just bought in a store," she says.
Students seem equally appreciative of the unique opportunity provided to them through the class. Jason Rodriguez, a sophomore who eventually wants to start his own construction company, said, "As soon as I heard about this class, I wanted to get into it," he says. "It's been so much fun, and it's going to help me in the future for sure."