By Mary-Justine Lanyon
When local carpenter Josh Luker saw a piece on a Sunday morning news program about three Fresno men who were making desks for students learning at home, a lightbulb went off.
In the program, the men said they realized the students did not have a designated place for their learning. They were being distracted by other things going on in their homes.
“There was an educator,” Luker said, “who talked about the importance of having a desk. Students are lying on their beds, working at the dining room table. She said that is not a stable environment in which to learn and retain information. It’s better to have a work station, a place to clock in.
“It struck me,” Luker said. “I could see the importance of these children having their own desks.”
He approached his neighbor, Dave Nygren, who oversees the Home Choice program for the Rim of the World Unified School District, and asked him if there was a need for desks up here.
Nygren took the idea to the four home school teachers who meet with their students once a week. “They said that, now that they see the students in their homes, you wouldn’t believe where they’re working,” he said. The teachers were enthusiastic about the idea of their students having a dedicated place to do their schoolwork.
Luker drew up plans for a simple desk, which he gave to Pat Brennan. Brennan modified the plans and he and Luker put together a crew.
On Oct. 24, 10 men got together at Brennan’s Rimforest shop and started constructing. They worked in an assembly line, cutting the tops and bottoms, sides and legs. They put together the desk tops, then added the legs and the bottom bracing.
The materials were donated by both Rim Forest Lumber and the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, of which Nygren and Brennan are members.
Nygren said the plan was to give each of the four teachers six desks to distribute to the students they knew were in the greatest need. The crew agreed that they would gather to make more, if needed.
The desks, Luker noted, are being given to the students unfinished. “They can paint them or finish them however they want,” he said.
“This project is a great idea,” Nygren said, “since this is the first time school is at home for many of these students so our parents expressed a need for desks. This is just another example of the success of the Home Choice Program and an example of our community stepping up to fill a need for our students through Rotary.”