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Vikan shop classroom gets face lift

Facebook’s popular show, Returning the Favor, follows host Mike Rowe as he travels the country in search of remarkable people making a difference in their communities. One of those remarkable people donates his time and skills in 27J Schools. 

Dave Franks spent his career in the construction industry. When he retired he decided the best way to share all the knowledge and experience he had acquired throughout his career was to teach the next generation of carpenters, electricians and construction professionals. 

When Mike Rowe and Returning the Favor heard about Franks and his tireless efforts to teach students about careers in the trade industries he knew he had found the focus of his next show. After a week of filming in and around 27J, with Franks under the impression this was a show highlighting the need for more vocational classes in schools, the big reveal took place in front of the entire student body at Vikan Middle. A $30,000 check from Returning the Favor as well as thousands of dollars worth of new shop tools and equipment was presented to Franks. To say Franks was shocked would be an understatement.

Over the summer, 27J Schools partnered with local contractors to complete the renovation project in time for the beginning of the new school year. Two local businesses provided in-kind donations of services to assist with finishing the project. Path 21 Architecture designed the new space for no fee, saving the school district approximately $7,800 for design services. Also, Wayne’s Electric provided electrical services for free: donating about 100 man hours and a cost savings to the school district of about $25,000.

“This space is perfect for wood shop classes. The students are going to love the new space,” said Vikan teacher Dave Franks, who volunteers to teach shop classes. “It’s exactly what I envisioned this space to be. I have everything ready and I’m excited to get back to school.” A new drafting class for eighth grade students will be added this year to the class offerings taught in the shop.

The wood shop space at 900-sq.-ft is the same size as before, however; the space was reconfigured and a divider wall was removed to create one large open space. New work benches have been installed for student use, and several new, large power tools: a table saw, miter saw, air compressor and floor drill press have been added.