By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
MARTINEZ, Calif. – When Martinez residents want a strong, spacious, attractive storage shed, they don’t have to call a carpenter or wonder how the structure will get delivered from a home improvement store.
They can buy one from Alhambra High School (AHS) and order it delivered. For a little extra money and a supply of paint, the new shed can match their home or garage.
Among his duties at Alhambra High School, Jay Heeb teaches woodworking, cabinet making and construction, and these 8 foot by 10 foot storage sheds are among the items his students can produce.
His class is a far cry from the old “shop” class from earlier years.
“The normal ‘industrial arts’ classes from the ‘70s and ‘80s weren’t really career oriented,” he explained. “I began teaching at AHS in 1983. For a few years, these classes were old-fashioned ‘shop’ classes.
“But our department, in conjunction with ROP (Regional Occupation Program), saw that we needed more career-oriented programs.”
Starting in the late 1980s and continuing through the 1990s, Heeb and the school developed “top-flight, career-oriented programs, teaching work-related skills,” he said.“Today, we have taken our programs one step further,” Heeb said. “We compete in Skills USA regional and state competitions. There are internship opportunities for students, and many guest speakers from industries that enhance these programs.”
His students took the top spots in cabinetmaking at the regional level in Skills USA this year, and placed fifth overall at state.
In addition, the school has courses that, when completed, award college credit to participating students, he said.
The shed construction became part of the program in 2008, Heeb said. “It ran successfully for four years, then there was a shutdown due to budget cuts.”
But this year, the program has been revived, and through the years, the school has sold and delivered 30 sheds.
The class is set up to have students work in four-person crews, Heeb said. Each student must be 16 years old, and a junior or senior, he said. Both boys and girls participate.
“Each group builds a shed. The number of sheds built each year depends on the number of construction students in the classes,” he said.
Because this program is offered through an agreement with Diablo Valley College, Heeb’s students must complete 40 chapters in a Diablo Valley College (DVC) textbook, and each four-student crew must produce a 1 inch to 1 foot scale model of a residential home and pass the DVC final exam, in addition to building a shed. If the student completes all the assignments, he or she receives four units of transferable college credit.
“In the past, we made as many as 14 sheds in a year. We are now making four sheds this year. The sheds are made in advance,” Heeb said.
The sheds are framed with actual 2 inch by 4 inch lumber, rather than the smaller precuts used by other manufacturers. They each feature 3-foot steel entry doors with a deadbolt lock, and a 2-foot-square vinyl dual pane window.
The sheds are topped with 20-year asphalt shingle gable roofs with eaves on each side.
The sheds’ sides are made of T1-11 siding that is considered more durable than conventional wood siding, and the trim is rough-sawn. Both the siding and the trim come primed, ready for paint, although students will paint the sheds for an additional $200 if the purchaser supplies the paint.
Each shed has two 4 by 6 pressure-treated girders on the bottom.
Cost of the sheds are $1,700 if they are delivered to the front yard, and $2,000 if delivered to the backyard, if it can be accessed easily.
“The sheds are sold for slightly over cost of materials,” Heeb said. “This compensates for any mistakes the students make.” The money goes directly to the woodworking account at the school, Heeb said.
Most of the structures are used for additional storage, as their name implies. “Shell Oil stores Christmas decorations in theirs. We have sold some that are being used on ranches for various ranch equipment,” he said.
“The students really like the hands-on work,” he said.
Elizabeth Doty has been enrolled in Alhambra’s automotive program for four years, and decided this year to try her hand at construction, since the program was making a comeback.
She said completing the class gives her an advantage in joining trade unions. “But even if you don’t have a career in this, you know how the system is set up. That can save you money, especially a female,” she said, acknowledging that some companies or workers have been known to take advantage of a client’s ignorance.
“This will help me in the long run. If I know where the crawl space is, I don’t have to hire a professional – more power to me!” she said.
For four years, Jayke Bobroski has studied cabinet making, and has succeeded in both regional and state levels of this year’s Skills USA competition. He was encouraged to start the class by his brother, Taylor.
Bobroski’s career goal is firefighting. He said the training he has gotten in Heeb’s class lets him better understand how buildings are constructed. “This helps a lot,” he said.
Jhonathan Zamora, another of the regional finalists, said he always had an interest in woodworking. “It’s amazing the things you can do,” he said. What he has learned so far is helping him outside of school. He made a jewelry box for his mother and crafted shelves for her bathroom. Working with his father, he’s made bed frames for his brother.
Jack Millson said he also is using his class skills outside of school. “I got a job offer for construction work, and figured I should learn the best I can,” he said as his reason for enrolling. “Now I’m taking what I learn to a house I’m remodeling off Alhambra Valley Road.”
Those interested in ordering sheds may do so through the Alhambra High School website, https://ahs-martinez-ca.schoolloop.com/, through a link under “Announcements.”