This is the first time students in Maine have been included in a state-funded school building project.
Jackson, who has been a member of the Building Committee for the new school for the past two years, put the idea to have students build the timber frame to the committee and Superintendent George Joseph. Together they presented the idea to the SAD 8 Board of Education, the State Board of Education, and CPM Construction Company.
“We never met with outright resistance,” said Jackson. “There were quite a few hoops to jump through, but everyone thought it could work.”
One stipulation of allowing Jackson’s students to work on the project was that the frame must be designed and engineered by certified builders who have experience with timber frames. Paradigm Builders, in Hanover, New Hampshire, was chosen for this job. The school’s primary architects, Oakpoint Associates in Biddeford, Maine, do not have experience with timber frames.
So far, Jackson’s classes are on schedule. Both middle school and high school students are working on the project. They have spent this fall making saw horses, building a one-twelfth scale model of the timber frame, and practicing carving housed mortices, brace pockets, and tenons on 8″ x 8″ timbers. They have also made about one-fifth of the oak pegs necessary for the project. According to Jackson, the students are ready to begin work on the actual timbers.
Timbers for the shop will be made of local spruce, cut and milled on the island. Jackson planned to spend part of his Thanksgiving vacation milling the timbers so they would be ready for student use after the break.
Knowing that the classes would embark on a totally new experience is what prompted many of Jackson’s students to enroll in the course.
“I figured it would be a good learning experience to learn about tools and timber framing,” said junior Casey Rasmussen. “Yesterday I got to use a chainsaw. It was cool because I had never used one before!” she declared proudly.
As with the earlier pilot gig projects, Jackson is creating a multi-dimensional experience for his students. The students will be creating and maintaining a Web page about the project, as well as taking photos and shooting a video. One facet of the class which many students enjoy is the “quote board.” Each week a different student is given the responsibility of choosing a quote to post on the bulletin board in the shop. Jackson takes time with the class to discuss the quote, what it means, and what the students think of it. Many of the quotes are about teamwork.
“[The quotes] make us think as a team, rather than as individuals,” said Rasmussen. “[The discussions] also help us get to know each other better.”
The timber frame project will culminate in a com-munity style “barn raising” in mid-late May in which any and all interested community members can take part.