St. Johnsbury Academy Students Make Benches for Community

SJA wooden benches ST. JOHNSBURY- The St. Johnsbury Academy woodworking students have been working on building benches as a way to give back to the community. These benches have been in the community since 2013, as well as other places all over the state of Vermont.

One of the most recent recipients of a bench was Northern Vermont Regional Hospital. The bench is two-sided, and the hospital has been using it as a way to get people off of their electronic devices, and communicating with each other while in the waiting room.

"Being able to have an opportunity or a way that kind of forces you to talk is a good thing. People have lost the ability to communicate with each other by just being with each other. So I think that's a skill that's been lost, and also something that I fear will be lost in the future years. Having something like this just makes it easier and it kind of forces you to communicate and interact," said Mark Price, Pediatrics Doctor.

Price also mentioned his appreciation for the Academy's consideration of the community while making these benches. "I also think it shows people are interested in the community, and that there's a relationship between the community and the Academy students who are building these benches. The Academy is certainly an important part of our community in town."

The Fairbanks Museum was also a recipient of a wooden bench just a couple of years ago.

"Well it's really significant to the museum. It was built locally, it was designed by students at the academy, it was presented to the museum because they loved coming here and they wanted to do something that left their creativity here in St. Johnsbury, and this is a great spot for it. It's something that we really appreciate and we know that they really worked hard to create something that was beautiful and meaningful, and that it's a part of our local heritage that's right here. It was a pleasure to see this from the students. We were delighted with their thoughtfulness and the quality of the work is terrific," said Director of External Relations Anna Rubin.

For some students, woodworking is a great way of getting a break from the typical school curriculum.

"Well I think it's really important that students have a well rounded education, and being able to do something like you wouldn't typically do like woodworking, which requires a lot of equipment, and all sorts of things that you wouldn't normally get a chance to do and so here at the Academy. I feel that it's really amazing that we have these opportunities," said student Audrey Lewis.

Lewis also mentioned that her love for woodworking began as a kid when she would watch her father make things. "Well my dad, he went to college for forestry and I live on a farm, and so I am very surrounded by nature and I've known a lot about trees and had conversations about this. He was a carpenter as well so I grew up building houses and helping him with that. So being able to create that is so lasting and so beautiful is really a passion of mine and I love it," said Lewis.

Other students love the idea of being able to keep the objects that they make.

"I like building so I can have it for myself and I can remember it for years. If I have kids one day I can say, 'Hey I built that, and it will last for years and years'," said student Melanie Coons.

Coons and Lewis both mentioned how they love giving back to the community.

"I think it's a really important way to give back, and to recognize the fact that people do so much for us in our community. It's amazing to be able to give them something that will last hundreds of years," said Lewis.

"I love giving to people, so when I have the opportunity to make something with my own bare hands and I can give it to someone in my community, I will take any advantage to, "said Coons.

The students' teacher Matt Stark hopes that he can continue to teach students how to build benches for years to come.

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