When Darren McKay pitched a project to his students, it wasn’t much of a tough sell for the Walnut Grove teacher.
“It is something they can connect with,” he said.
“Gone are the days of the making umbrella racks and planter stands.
“When a project is more personal, they are more involved with the design.”
A dozen students in his carpentry and joinery class at Walnut Grove Secondary School signed up.
The project was initiated by a Port Kells company, GreenFoot Boards, which produces environmentally friendly longboards.
A longboard is a longer variant of a skateboard and is commonly used for cruising, downhill racing, slalom racing or just as a mode of transportation.
The idea to partner with a local school came from one of GreenFoot’s founders, Jackson Hilts, who is also a competitive rider.
The company provided the students with blank decks — rectangular, uncut decks — for the boards at below retail cost.
“I’ve seen lots of board building projects that other skaters or friends of mine have made in their schools,” he explained.
“For the most part, I have been pretty unimpressed with finished products coming out of those classes.
“Lots of people just glue a couple sheets of plywood together, thinking that will suffice,” he explained.
“I figured … we could get these students on longboards that would both last them longer and be of better quality than what they could have pressed.”
The students were tasked with coming up with the designs.
The first steps were to come up with the type of board they would be using — freeriding, carving, downhill, cruising — and then coming up with their design, which they first sketched on paper.
The third step was to cut and shape a full scale prototype of the board on a piece of plywood or medium density fibreboard to make sure the design was perfect.
The fourth step was cutting out and shaping the laminated blank decks. This involved using bandsaws, jigsaws, routers, drill presses, sanding machines, and other equipment.
The next step was designing the board paint colours and graphics and applying them.
And then finally, installing the trucks, wheels and grip tape.
Altogether, the process took a couple of months.
And on Thursday (June 7), Hilts was at Walnut Grove Secondary, checking out the finished products.
“I have kept in touch with the school over the entire process of the board building project and (Thursday) was the icing on the cake,” Hilts said.
“I was stoked to see everyone eager to get out and ride their boards.
“The satisfaction, for me, comes from seeing them step on a board for the first time, and start smiling.
“From what Darren McKay has told me, the board building project garnered a fair bit of excitement among the students so hopefully we can keep growing the program and have more and more kids taking part next year.”
“As an elective course, it has created a lot of buzz,” McKay said.
“And it is nice to partner with a local business in the community that wants to get involved.”
The students said that creating their own longboards required patience and was a lot harder than they anticipated.
But they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
They also said they enjoyed making their projects unique and a reflection of themselves.
Parker Brann based his design on a favourite TV show, My Little Pony.
“When the opportunity came to make one, I jumped at it,” he said.
“I wanted to make one of my own that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.”
Cam Wass searched the internet for design ideas.
“And I put everything that I liked into that design,” he said.
For Mackenzie Sloboda, creating a longboard was great because she had to leave her other one back home in Saskatchewan, when she came to Langley.
With her pink board sort of shaped like an eye, she decided to give it an eyeball design.
Walnut Grove student Mackenzie Sloboda (left) shows off her longboard to GreenFoot Board’s Jackson Hilts last Thursday. Sloboda was one of a dozen Walnut Grove students who took advantage of GreenFoot Boards’ help in making her own longboard.