Alcona High hosts industrial technology regional competition

LINCOLN-Shop class students from 20 schools competed for top honors Friday at Alcona Community High School during the Michigan Industrial Technology Education Society’s regional competition.

Although Alcona students missed getting best of show this year, they submitted some of the most creative work at the event, visitors said.

Allen Van Den Boom won first place for an underdrawer bed he made out of cedar trees and slabs of black walnut. The senior took top honors in the competition last year, but had to settle for first this year. He will head to state finals later this month, industrial arts instructor Chuck Boyer said.

Another senior, Eric Hampton, spent a year and a half making a fold-out bar, that contains wine glass storage, drawers, a roll-top cubby and a pull-out bottle rack. When closed, the cabinet is a heavy cube of oak.

“It was like the weirdest one,” Hampton said, referring to his entry, which drew dozens of bystanders.

With no pattern for the design and nothing else to go on, Hampton began fitting slabs of wood together to form the top. The unit swings open into three sections. The next step was to plan cubbies, drawers and shelves, and fit them into the interior.

When Hampton tired of the labor-intensive project, he took a break to build a roll-top cubby for fun. It, too, eventually became a part of the cabinet’s fittings.

“You’ve got to work really hard to finish,” Hampton said. “I had to come in before and after school to finish it.”

Despite the experience, Hampton said he won’t be going into cabinet making as a profession. When he enters Central Michigan University this fall, he will be a pre-med student.

Among other entries, 11th-grader Kyle Good used maple harvested from his grandfather’s property to build a flat screen TV cabinet with DVD storage, nabbing a sixth place ribbon. Tenth-grader Jacob Rademacher took first place for a maple and cherry saddle rack with drawers.

The woodworking projects were the most glamorous items on display. Students also competed in industrial and architectural drawing, graphic arts, computer-aided rapid prototype design, welding, interior design, metal fabrication, even machine tool milling.

Thirty judges from Alcona County examined more than 500 entries Friday morning before making their selections.

“Most of the judges felt across the board, ‘I wish I could do that,’ ” said Will St. John, who helped score the projects from schools in northern lower Michigan. “Some of these projects are fully as good as a professional woodworker.”

The best of show for Region 15 was a tall chest of five bow-front drawers by Zack Thurston of Cadillac High School. The sides and back of the unit were covered in raised panels. However, Thurston used a bright yellow stain in the finish, which drew some criticism from judges.

Best of show for Region 14 was a cherry dining table with maple inlay, four matching chairs and a matching bench by Alex Fitol, a 10th-grader at Harbor Springs.

Students who won first- through fourth-place ribbons will head to the state competition May 8-11 at CMU in Mt. Pleasant, Boyer said. Alcona projects also will be on display during the middle- and high-school student showcase at the gym 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 14. The event is open to the public and will include art projects and a science fair.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy

on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.