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Plan for Modernized Art Room Integrates Shop Classes

Illustration by Siena Laws

Construction in room G112 is beginning the week of April 22 and will continue into fall of next year. Leading the project is Wyn Skeels, the Career Technical Education (CTE) Program Supervisor for the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD).

The room will be equipped with a 3D printer, laser cutters, and other programmable equipment. The new renovated classroom will be open to the Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA) classes taught by visual arts teacher Miriam Stahl that are currently in the room, as well as the carpentry and tech classes that will be launching in the fall.

Robotics class, other engineering classes, physics classes and any computer engineering classes will have access as well. “The classroom will operate almost like a library where you can check out time and work on individual projects,” said Skeels

The remodel will include a glass wall going through the middle of the classroom  to separate the shop and art classes, as well as several new technologies to the classroom. The main purpose of the remodel is to add a shop classroom to Berkeley High School (BHS), according to Stahl. The classroom will look like a typical shop class but with “a really modern twist,” says Skeels.

This will include lots of instruments particular to shop.

There will also be an environmentally friendly ink run off station to accommodate the screen printing done by the AHA students. “I am trying to incorporate more technology into my art classes,” says Stahl.

The funding for these renovations and additions came from two main places. One of which is money set aside from a bond created following the passing of Measure I ten years ago.

The money set aside was for CTE programs. CTE programs are programs “that give students transferable skills,” Skeels said. This includes “media programs, science program, carpentry … as well as the engineering design robotics class.” Additional funding, most of which is going to equipment, comes from a state grant called the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant.

Why the sudden push for early vocational training? The push is coming from “actual employers that want [schools] to train the workforce of the 21st century,” said Skeels. The push is also a result of several problems that are surfacing in the modern workforce. One key issue is “the skills gap between the many new jobs being created and the education our students are getting,” said Skeels.

According to Skeels, the majority of the prospective employers require some form of secondary education but most do not require a four year degree. Because of this, BUSD and BHS have been making strides in creating new programs to create more opportunities for students.

Included in this initiative are several already established CTE programs including Biotech, Digital Media, Emergency Services, and Public Health. “We are expanding our CTE pathway offerings aligned with state CTE curriculum standards,” adds Skeels.

One minor consequence of this construction is that classes will have to move and students will lose a lunchtime hangout spot, as one AHA student says often times, “the room is full of AHA kids … sometimes other people too, some who don’t even have Ms. Stahl.”

Stahl will be relocating to several different classrooms until after next fall. However, in the future, this means more opportunities for students when it comes to picking classes and for future careers as well.