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Murray Journal

Students turn Murray High’s woodworking shop into ‘Santa’s workshop’

Feb 09, 2024 02:18PM ● By Julie Slama

Murray High students turned their woodworking shop into Santa’s workshop and made wooden cars and ornaments for young children. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Every December, for 25 years, there has been a buzzing of saws and sanders at Murray High. There are splashes of color and moments of inspiration and creativity as Murray High students, alumni and faculty turn the woodworking lab into “Santa’s workshop.”

“This is a different sort of lesson they’re learning,” woodworking teacher Quinn Drury said. “There are three steps in a person’s life. One is they believe in Santa Claus. Two, they don’t believe. And three, they become. This is when they become; it’s kids helping other kids. They’re at the point where they can help others and give back.”

Forty-four wooden cars were in the production line on the chop saw, band saw and router. Students were sanding, routing and creatively painting the 7-inch cars.

“We’re giving them to kids at the Murray High day care as well as to Primary Children’s Hospital kids,” said junior and Murray High Skills USA vice president of promotions Kristina Jorgensen as she painted a car with a cameo design. “The cars are dropped at the hospital, but here at school, we get to deliver them and see their faces light up.”

Drury said they make cars simply because “kids love them.”

In the 750 or more cars Murray High students have made through the years, “all the kids are excited playing with the cars,” he said.

About one dozen years ago, following the lead of some Murray students who also were earning their Boy Scout Eagle awards, the woodworking students added cutting out wooden ornaments for Primary Children’s Hospital. About 500 ornaments have gone to young patients to decorate and keep during the holiday season. 

“Our students are getting some more exposure to band saw work,” Drury said. “They’re learning mass production. This is adding or practicing their woodworking skills, but we’re having fun and giving back at the same time.” 

Senior Michael Porter, who wants to study computer programming or material science next year in college, got an honorable mention in the recent Utah Talents Wood Show.

“I like coming over and doing this for the kids,” he said. “I like having the opportunity to put smiles on kids’ faces. It’s fun.”

Seniors Wesley Marsh and Bridger Kissell, who are respectively the president and vice president of activities for the school’s 50-member Skills USA chapter, planned the activity.

“We do it every year; nobody misses it,” said Marsh, who plans to study construction and may join the Army National Guard. “It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

Kissell, who plans to study woodworking, added, “I like socializing with friends while doing this good thing. We’re making these cars to brighten up kids’ spirits.”

Nos Shabazz, who graduated last spring, returned to help his former classmates.

“I just got done with finals [at Utah Valley University in construction management] so I can back,” he said. “I get to see my teachers again and have fun while doing something worthwhile.”

Drury said he asks students, “If you had the afternoon and could do anything you’d want, what would you do?” Often, they’d say “ome into the woodshop and building something,” he said.

“For a lot of them, this is their recreation as well as their future occupation,” Drury said. “And what’s more fun than getting to be Santa’s elves and make toys?” λ