Palma reminisces on woodshop and autoshop

April 3, 2013 — by Arman Vaziri

Saws buzz. Hammers thud. Engines growl. These sounds are no longer heard in the school’s hallways since woodshop and autoshop have been cut from the school’s electives.

Saws buzz. Hammers thud. Engines growl. These sounds are no longer heard in the school’s hallways since woodshop and autoshop have been cut from the school’s electives.
 At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, woodshop was cut due to low enrollment. Another hands-on class, autoshop, was cut after the 2004-05 school year. At various points, both had been taught by current MAP teacher Tony Palma. 
“A typical day [in woodshop started with] students coming in and working on their projects, which depended on the level of class and the time of year,” Palma said. 
According to Palma, most of the students who signed up for woodshop and autoshop were new to them and had never learned to  use most of the tools used. 
“A lot of the students who came into woodshop were beginners, never having used a power tool in their life so we started off really small [with the projects],” Palma said.
In woodshop, students had to design their projects before actually making it. Designing a project involved sketching it out and planning ahead to conserve supplies.
“Before every projects, [students] would have to design and draw it out and had to make a materials list and then take the materials list and translate it into the product,” Palma said.
Projects that students made in woodshop started small, beginning with projects such as learning how to use hand tools, making bird houses and building stools. Students also created independent projects where they had the freedom to build whatever they wanted after designing it.
“[What students would build] depended on the level of the class and the time of year,” Palma said. “When I taught the class, there were certain projects that the students would have to do … and there were also open projects.”
The woodshop room is now unused after woodshop class was cut. But the tools used in the class are still inside the cavernous room. The room still contains benches, buzz saws, drill presses and more. 
At the time Palma was teaching, there were only three woodshop classes, each of which could contain no more than 30 students per class. However, Palma believes that there should’ve been fewer students because there were only a certain number of tools in the woodshop room and when waiting for the tools, students had a tendency to get distracted. 
“When [students] were waiting to do something [for a project], they started doing things they shouldn’t be doing,” Palma said. “That’s why it’s important to keep enrollment low, so we would run sections of 28 to 30 [students].”
Autoshop, while still requiring hands-on knowledge, focused more around the mechanical side of things, including fixing different parts of cars.
Palma said that in autoshop, students would do basic automotive repair on cars. The cars in the back would have problems with them that Palma had set up and students would have to fix the problems. For a while, students would even do oil changes for teachers’ cars.
According to Palma, the problem with autoshop was a lack of facilities. Students had to work either outside or in what is now the weight room. 
“The fact of the matter is that if you’re going to do serious auto work, you’re going to need the right facilities to support it,” Palma said. 
Though woodshop and autoshop classes are in the past now, the planning and designing skills learned in these classes are invaluable and Palma still believes these classes could still be useful for future careers.
“I think there are a lot of career opportunities, in woodworking and in metal,” said Palma. “People need parts, but also people need students who can think both conceptually and physically.”