The Viking Longship Project is equally loved by all students who opt to take the elective class. Woodworking, journalism, finance, and art all centered around the high school’s Viking mascot, are some of the subjects that students have participated in when they take the unique hands-on class. Paving the way for future students, three freshmen decided to take it a step further and add blacksmithing to the list of trades to learn in the year-long class.
Ty Calinda, Julia Marcoccio, and Ivy Crespo were in the midst of what is called “hell week” in the Viking Longship class, when they realized that blacksmithing has never been offered. While it had been on the list of potential trades to learn, it had never been fully approved. The three eager freshmen took the matter into their own hands and presented their ideas for a blacksmithing class to retired teacher George Skane, who runs the program.
“Compared to all other fields offered in the class, blacksmithing is so different,” said Marcoccio, who explained in detail what blacksmithing entails. “If all goes as planned, blacksmithing students will be able to make utensils and tools using fire to get the desired shape. Our big goal is to make the handle for the ticket booth on Miller Field.”
While their excitement was enough to gain the approval of the fire department, building inspector, high school principal, and school committee, the three students have a lot of work ahead of them. They are now tasked with securing funds for the necessary supplies to get blacksmithing up and running. Their long list of supplies includes: propane, hammers, a forge and metal, fire tongs, a vice to keep metal pieces from slipping, a pot, aprons, leather gloves, and anvil tools. All equipment will be stored in a custodian shed, and a retractable fence will be used to section off the blacksmith projects, so no one gets hurt during the 70-minute class period.
“I’ve always wanted to do something with my hands in this class,” said Crespo. “I don’t feel like I have artistic talent so I didn’t feel like I could do wood carving or design weapons and armor. Blacksmithing is kind of a combination of those things.”
The students have a major goal of keeping the blacksmithing program going strong, and in addition to raising funds and writing grants, they are planning to present the class to incoming 9th graders to keep the interest alive.
“We need to make sure that students take this class seriously so we will have to survey them and confirm that they are really interested, because we don’t want anyone getting burned,” Marcoccio said. “At first, I think people didn’t think it would happen, then we put together a presentation for the fire department and no one else had ever gone this far.”
With the help of Skane, the students have joined New England Blacksmiths, and have started to learn from experienced professionals in the trade. They are hoping to get the class running by the end of the school year. If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact George Skane at: [email protected]