WAIMEA — It began with a question posed to Bob Saligumba: “Can your kids make desks?”
The auto body, metals and automotive teacher at Waimea High School replied “yes.”
His students haven’t stopped working since.
Saligumba and crew are constructing 50 desks for incoming freshmen this fall.
“There are two classrooms that are going to be outfitted with new furniture and we’re trying to make it more inviting,” Saligumba said.
Students began making desks at the beginning of fourth quarter and have completed two. The project is allowing sophomores, juniors and seniors to see their work used by others, which senior, Justin Fernandez, says is gratifying.
“It’s been pretty fun. Learning how to weld different angles, making something that you can see and say that you built,” he said. “If you work hard and try your best, it will come out nice.”
Fernandez said he and his classmates jumped at the opportunity.
“I was game for it, I really wanted to do it. Class was getting boring,” he said jokingly.
Principal Mahina Anguay allocated $8,000 so far for the project. Costs are well under that.
“As of now, we can finish the desks — all painted and everything — under. We’ve spent about $5,000,” Saligumba said.
With the leftover money, Saligumba plans to work with other teachers to restore and replace other classroom furniture.
“There are desktops that are termite eaten, so we can put new tops on and finish them,” he said.
The project also an opportunity for Saligumba to teach his students the importance of giving back and taking pride in their community.
“My seniors are really the ones working on it. I have some students working hard on it, but the seniors are working hard on it to finish them for the freshmen,” he said. “And it teaches them to look at the big picture so that they know how to do things quickly and in a timely manner.”
When a new crop of high schoolers come to campus and are told about the desks, Saligumba hopes that encourages them to work hard during their time at Waimea High.
“If you catch them while they’re freshmen, they’ll be successful and be here all four years,” he said. “If you don’t catch them freshmen year, if you get any failures, then what happens is they start failing sophomore year, junior year, then by the time they’re seniors, they start dropping out.”
The plan is to finish all 50 desks by the end of the school year.
“I think we’re gonna make it. We have all the desks cut and all the legs made, so it’s going to be like mass production,” he said.