While public high schools around the state and the country are readying for spring testing, including the ACT and the SAT, there are also those that are highlighting their Career Technical Education (CTE) students and successes, and with good reason.
Such is the case, for example, at Petoskey High School, where Larry Liebler’s Building Trades students are completing a project in conjunction with the Little Traverse Conservancy to build a giant wooden megaphone that they will locate to a Conservancy property so trekkers can listen to an amplified nature.
The idea came about when LTC staffer Charles Dawley came read a Smithsonian magazine article on the use of similar megaphones in the forests of Estonia. After learning about how the European students placed three of the megaphones at the Pähni Nature Centre, Dawley says, “I thought a megaphone would be a great addition to what the Conservancy does.”
Budget and time constraints, however, kept the project from taking shape, until earlier this year when “the Building Trades class looking for projects and a grant from the Petoskey Home Depot the project came together,” Dawley says.
Constructed of treated deck boards, the structure will rest just off the forest floor, so hikers can climb inside to hear the woodsy symphony.
“We’ve never done anything like this,” teacher Liebler explains, but adds, “We always try to do a couple community service projects,” so this fits well into the class’s goals.
Senior Trevor Reece has worked hard on the project, ensuring the planking angles are right and the joints tight. “It’s pretty cool,” Reece says of the project.
Liebler’s class of juniors and seniors at PHS are now shaping and finishing the megaphone, in hopes of placing the structure soon after the snow melts.
Once completed, the megaphone, the only one of its kind in the U.S., will be placed at the Taylor Horton Creek Nature Preserve near Boyne City.
Petoskey High School also offers other CTE programs, including Automotive Technology, Agriscience and Natural Resources, Business Management and Administration, CAD Drafting, Medical Occupations, Marketing, and Culinary Arts, which just earned honors from Sullivan University as one of the elite fifty such programs in the country.
Other area schools, including Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, as well as others, also offer CTE programs, often drawing students from districts where such programs are unavailable. Graphic Arts and Printing is available at Harbor Springs, while Charlevoix High School offers Machine Tool Technology.
Char-Em Intermediate District coordinates the various programs, ensuring students from any of the eleven local school districts can take part in the available programs.
Back in Petoskey, PHS senior Reece says there is plenty to appreciate in the project. “It’s something new,” he says, adding, “I can’t really compare it to any other project I’ve worked on.”