Williston’s old schoolhouse on the town green will soon be filled with work benches, flying sawdust and the whirring of handsaws.
Sawmill Studio—a mobile education company that teaches woodworking to kids in grades 2 through 6—is set to bring a beginning woodworking class to Williston in January through the Williston Parks and Recreation Department.
“The kids just jump right in, they love it,” said Sachi Hergesheimer, who runs the program with friend Stuart Cheney. “I’m always amazed at how quickly they know how to use everything. After the first project, they’ve got it.”
Cheney and Hergesheimer started Sawmill Studio four years ago, after discovering a mutual love of woodworking while both working at IBM.
The classes are intended as an enrichment program.
“They’re really learning life-long skills,” Cheney said. “If they ever own a house or live in an apartment or own a piece of furniture, these are the kinds of tools they’re going to need.”
Hergesheimer added that the classes are a good alternative to video games and television, as well as consumerism.
“To just be able to sit down and make something on your own I think is pretty powerful,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of this hands-on learning anymore.”
Each student builds a birdhouse to introduce them to the tools and techniques. Once the birdhouse is finished, students can choose from a variety of projects, from lunch boxes to back scratchers.
Cheney assured any potentially worried parents that Sawmill Studio doesn’t use any power tools.
“All the projects are really designed for kids of this age,” he said. “Everything is handpicked or hand built by us to make it work for them, for their safety and for their convenience and for their enjoyment.”
Hergesheimer said she loves watching kids’ faces light up when they finish a craft.
“It’s awesome when the kid finishes a project and they are just so proud and amazed at what they have made,” she said. “That’s always the best moment, when someone has a big smile on their face and says ‘look at what I made.’”
The class is set to begin Jan. 15 and will run for five weeks. It is scheduled for Tuesdays from 3 – 4:30 p.m. at the Old Schoolhouse on the green by Williston Central School. The class costs $85, and all materials are provided. To sign up, visit the Parks and Recreation section of www.willistonvt.govoffice3.com.