Warde woodworkers polish off the year with showcase
Published 5:36 am, Monday, June 20, 2011
Family and friends of 70 Fairfield Warde High School wood shop students were awed by the workmanship of the student projects displayed at the annual end-of-the-year exhibit.
Parents and siblings were ready with a compliment for students' inlaid tables, turned bowls and lamps, picture frames, desks, dressers, end tables -- even grandfather clocks -- that they made throughout the school year in teacher John Kassay's shop. The exhibit was on view at the school last Wednesday evening.
"It's good. I'm proud. His grandfather (Achilles Dias) used to work with wood. He died 15 years ago, but if he was alive he would be very proud of his grandson," said Fernando Dias, referring to his son Gabriell Dias, 16. Of the four pieces of woodworking that Gabriell Dias had in the exhibit, three of them won awards.
A professional cabinet maker and architectural millworker was so impressed that he made job offers on the spot.
"I told John (Kassay) I'm willing to take a few top students in apprenticeship. There's some talented students," said Mark Bento, owner of Fairfield Woodworks in Stratford. His son Brett Bento is a Warde student and had a Shaker table and grandfather clock in the show.
After looking at the oak center island with intricately crafted purple heart wood inlay that Evan Fraser constructed, Mark Bento offered the 18-year-old senior a summer job.
"It's an amazing program. We're lucky to have these kinds of electives. It's a nice, creative outlet for the students who maybe aren't artistic or musical. These are skills for life," said Lauren Mappa, whose 14-year-old son Jack is a freshman. He made a bedside table that was in the exhibit.
John Hamilla, 19, a Warde Class of 2010 graduate, stopped by to see the woodworking projects his brother, Matt, made. "I wasn't aware that such beautiful works were being produced in our high school," John Hamilla said.
Junie Cassone knew. The 2007 Warde graduate was one of the few females in Kassay's classes (there were no females this year, Kassay said), and she has come back to see the exhibit each year since graduation. "It's nice to see students put more effort in their projects and learn a different style of woodworking," she said, pointing out the inlaid tables and boxes.
Chris O'Brien, 16, and several other students constructed coffee tables with built-in chess boards. O'Brien's game board was made of inlaid poplar and walnut woods. Michael Wright used black and white ceramic tiles to create his game board.
"It's cool how it's so independent. You had to make a coffee table but you could design your own. You could have the solid top or the inlay and different legs, Cabriole or turned," O'Brien said.
"They're not only constructing a project for a grade, he (Kassay) inspired them to make it uniquely their own. This is art. It's not just woodshop," said Cheryll Pittera, whose son David Pittera, 18, won Best in Show for his grandfather clock.
"It's so nice to see their accomplishments," said Sheila O'Brien, Chris's mother. After admiring the clocks made by upper classmen, Sheila O'Brien told her son, "I want a grandfather clock, absolutely."
Eric Chou, 15, a sophomore, said there is a satisfaction that comes with completing a project. "Every time I look at it I can say `I made it.' "
Senior Vin Montanaro III, 18, won't leave for college until August, but he has already outfitted his entire dorm room with furniture he made in Warde's wood shop, including a double-sided dresser, desk, coffee table, lamp and night stand.
"He's basically furnished his whole dorm room," said Colleen Montanaro, Vin's mother.
His father, Vin Montanaro II, said his son was one of several students who came after school and stayed late to work on their projects. "It's a tribute to the teacher," he said.
While most students said they enjoy woodworking as a hobby, Vin Montanaro III said he plans to pursue it as a career. He will study physics or a math-related field at Southern Connecticut State University this fall, "anything to help me with construction," said Montanaro, who drew up the plans for the double-sided dresser in junior year. "I did the measurements in my head."