Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Media: Crystal Middle School students build sailboat

By Nika Megino Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - The night before the first day of school, Raveen Bhatia dreamt that he would spend his days building miniature boats in woodshop class.

The seventh-grader at Crystal Middle School got more than he imagined when he discovered the school's Woodworkers Club was building a 14-foot sailboat.

Raveen is among dozens of students who have worked on the sailboat a project spearheaded by Jim Stevens, the school's woodshop teacher.

Stevens began the project in spring 2006 with a group of students who have since gone on to high school. They started from scratch, taking a popular design of a Zephyr sailboat, designed for use in both deep and shallow waters.

'Maybe I was a bit ambitious, but who's to say you can't push a little,' Stevens said.

The project has given Stevens an opportunity to share his passion with his students as they learn about woodwork.

His students have begun to share his passion. Seventh-grader Jacob Kiikvee said his experience in woodshop has been interesting.

'I had to learn it first. You have to understand it before you work on it,' Kiikvee said. 'After a while, it became natural.'

Eighth-grader Steven Nolde agreed as he smoothed the wooden frame of the boat with sand paper. Nolde said it's the feeling of accomplishment that keeps him interested in woodwork.

'Just seeing the amazing things people can do with their hands --it's amazing,' Nolde said.

Stevens and the students meet twice a week, focusing on a certain task each day. As Stevens measured a piece of wood, his students concentrated on what the task will be.

'I love it,' Bhatia said of woodshop. 'It's just a great program and Mr. Stevens makes it a point to get to know (his students).'

The sailboat should be finished in the time for the Fairfield-Suisun School District's annual art show, which will be held in April.

Stevens appreciates his students' enthusiasm and is thankful that so many have wanted to participate in the project.

'It's exciting to see this start from paper,' Stevens said. 'It's an extension of math and geometry and physics. This is applied sciences.'

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

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