LAKEVIEW — Make all the jokes you want about girls and their alleged ineptitude when it comes to power tools — all evidence to the contrary was on display Wednesday evening at Lakeview High School.
That’s where students in Dave Albert’s all-female “powder puff” shop class have spent the past several weeks putting together 20 toy motorcycles, which were then awarded to a select group of area children.
The motorcycles, crafted from white pine and mahogany, were among the most carefully built and decorated toys Albert has seen during his time at Lakeview High School. The girls, Albert said, tended to be a bit more meticulous than their male counterparts.
“The girls are a little … how should I put it?” Albert said. “They pay closer attention to detail and want the project to be perfect. A lot of times the boys just want it to be done. You can see that in this year’s toys; they’re beautiful.”
For the past several years, Albert’s class has produced toys for area children, as well as taken part in many other community service projects. This was the first year for an all-girl class, however.
“I wanted to start a new powder puff wood shop class,” Albert explained. “It was one of those things where we would occasionally get a girl in wood shop and she would love it. The hardest thing was getting them in there in the first place.
“Some were skeptical, but it really took off,” he said. “I had over 100 girls sign up for it this semester. I have two full classes and they’re really doing amazing things.”
This year’s effort was sponsored in part by Yamaha Motor Sports and Lakeside Motor Sports, which provided T-shirts and other promotional items. A new motorcycle has been parked in the shop class serving as both an inspiration and general template for the toys the students have been creating this semester.
“They’re just helping to motivate the girls at this point,” Albert said. “The girls worked unbelievably hard. They would come in in groups and stay after school working. This class was just very special.”
Erin Vanderzand, one of Albert’s students responsible for building the toy motorcycles, said the project was a fun one, but involved a great deal of work over the course of the semester.
“We started two days after school started in mid-September,” Vanderzand said. “We worked the whole hour every day. First we had to work with the table saw, which was different. We’re all girls and none of us really had any idea what we were doing at first.
“But we cut the wood for the body and rocker, then glued the pieces together and sanded and routed them all. Our biggest thing was we knew we had to be done in set time, so we all just worked really hard and didn’t stop.”
This children who received the toy motorcycles were selected by local businesses from among employees’ friends and families.
“This year it had nothing to do with socio-economic status,” Albert said. “We just went around to local business and asked them if they had hard-working employees with kids or grandkids between the ages of 2 and 5 that they wanted to nominate to receive a toy.”