By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Y-C manufacturing program takes off

Students attend class in a refurbished workshop, located adjacent to the main school building. It’s a place where Franklin could spend every minute of every school day, if that were possible.

“This has been my favorite class,” he said. “I get to mess around with everything. This is where the fun is at the high school.”

The first-year program held an open house Tuesday, giving visitors a glimpse into what seems to be cutting-edge curriculum. Teachers Trevor DaSilva and Nichole Spearman-Eskelsen joined students in displaying machinery and introducing the local business partners providing it.

DaSilva, who teaches construction, drafting and manufacturing, and Spearman-Eskelsen, who teaches ag science, animal science, food science, horticulture and viticulture, launched the manufacturing program last fall.

Seven sections of Introduction to Manufacturing were offered this year, three in the first semester and four in the second. And the two taught them as a team.

DaSilva  graduated from Y-C High in 2002. He has taught in the district for three years. He took metal and wood classes in the same structure where he teaches today.

“The classes were good, but you were not being prepared to go out and find a job in a specific field,” said DaSilva, who has the dream teaching job in his opinion. “If I work here for the next 50 years, it would be a life well spent.”

Spearman-Eskelsen, who graduated from Willamina High in 1997, has taught 11 years in the district. She also serves as the FFA advisor.

Both teachers will offer advanced as well as introductory classes next year.

Introductory classes teach basic skills in subject areas that include AutoCAD — a software application for computer-aided design and drafting, as well as blueprint reading, framing and metal work.

“If a student decides he likes carpentry, and wants to go into the construction field, he would concentrate on just construction when taking the advanced course,” DaSilva said. “A student that enjoys metals could concentrate on welding.”

The goal, DaSilva said, is to graduate students with marketable job skills.

This program, Spearman-Eskelsen said, is industry-driven. “They have given us a set of skills to meet,” she said of the school’s business partners. “It’s what we base our curriculum on — on their needs.”

About 120 students will have gone through the introductory phase of the program by the end of this year.

DaSilva said he expected the program to attract a large number of students during its first year. Boys far outnumber girls, but the program also drew some girls.

The program has aligned itself with Meggitt Polymers and Composites, which operates a plant in McMinnville, and Solid Form Fabrication, a McMinnville firm owned by brothers Keith and Kevin Paolo. Other partners include Slater Machine & Tool in Yamhill, Farnham Electric in McMinnville, A-dec in Newberg and McMinnville Industrial Promotions.

“We could not have come nearly this far without our business partners,” DaSilva said. “We have received more help from some than others, but they have all stepped up and helped out with curriculum and equipment.”

Spearman-Eskelsen said the partnership has afforded both her and DaSilva some wonderful learning opportunities.

“We’re learning a lot,” she said. “They have opened up their facilities to us for field trips.

“Trevor will do an internship at Meggitt this summer and be able to pass on more skills to our kids. It’s a full circle project.”

Y-C Principal Jim Orth said a connection with Meggitt was crucial in developing the program. He said Operations Vice President Jeremy Lodge, Controller Mike Fenske and Lean Manufacturing Manager Steve Fackler got the program from the start.

“They have been instrumental, as well as many others we have worked with,” Orth said. “It was Jeremy and Mike’s vision. They met with us just over a year ago.

“They expressed an interest in what we were about. They had a vision for our program. They jumped right in and got committed.”

Orth said he applied for a grant designed to jumpstart the program, but Y-C did not prevail. The day he learned the school would not be getting the grant, he said, he and Vice Principal Jeff Davis happened to have a visit scheduled with Meggitt officials at their plant on Lafayette Avenue.

“They said, ‘We want to help,’” Orth said. “Overnight, they kicked the program into high gear.”

Orth has worked at the high school long enough to remember when the manufacturing workshop was not spruced up with high tech equipment positioned throughout the large structure.

“A-dec donated equipment,” Orth said. “The building was redesigned last year.

“Meggitt remodeled a section. We could not have afforded to do it the way it’s been done. Meggitt has put, I would estimate, $100,000 into the facility.”

He added, “The money has been nice. The upgrades are nice. But the most important thing has been the business connection — the business people working with the students. That’s what gets kids excited.”

Kids like Doctor, Franklin and Johnson, in addition to junior Drew Adams and freshman Hayden Cline.

“Kids are looking for a path that can earn them a living wage,” Orth said. “They will do what they have to do. They see this as a path to get them started.”

While Y-C sees the program as an investment in its students, Meggitt views it as an investment in the community. Orth recalled Meggitt’s Lodge telling him, “We want workers to come out of a manufacturing environment and be ready to go.”

Franklin said he wants to weld for a living some day, so the program is a godsend for him.

He said the welding table he, Doctor and Johnson turned out was a positive project to work on. Taking the Introduction to Manufacturing class was a good experience, and he knows the advanced class he will take next year will be a tougher challenge.

Franklin expressed his appreciation to the program’s partners for the work they have done in making the program become a reality.

It’s no wonder Adams might turn on the TV at home and tune in to “Sons of Guns” on the Discovery Channel. The series centers on Red Jacket Firearms LLC, a Louisiana-based business that manufactures and sells custom weapons.

He’s interested in ag fabrication and wants to be a gunsmith one day. He believes it could be a lucrative business.

Adams’ father has worked for Amerson Precision Sheet Metal in McMinnville for six years, and the work has rubbed off.

He said there is a direct correlation between his day-to-day classload at the high school and the manufacturing curriculum. For instance, Adams can take what he learns in a math class and apply it directly to his manufacturing studies.

Cline was wiping down a hydraulic machine for the open house. He’s glad he was introduced to different facets of manufacturing this year, and welcomes the opportunity to specialize next year.

However, he’s not sure in which direction he wants to go. His grandfather was a carpenter, so maybe that will inspire him.

With Y-C graduates Deven Paolo, class of 1993, and Keith Paolo, class of 1995, operating Solid Form Fabrication, the business was a perfect fit for the manufacturing program. “I got started in here, taking classes, so it’s kind of cool to give back,” Keith said.

School board member, Y-C graduate and grass seed grower Tim Pfeiffer finds the manufacturing program incredibly exciting. He views it as a wonderful manufacturing and production opportunity for the students.

“It’s a win-win for the students and the school district,” he said.

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