Seventh and eighth graders use hammers to pound nails with precision and strength while performing arts instructor Doug Lowry breaks slabs of wood in two with his knee. As Lowry shouts instructions, the students bask in the smell of freshly cut wood.
For the second year in a row, students gather in room B107, the Technical Theater Workshop, from 3:00 to 4:30p.m. every Monday afternoon to learn basic woodworking skills in an After School Arts program called Hammertime. The class also serves as an introduction to Guild, an all-school club that works behind the scenes to ensure that All-School Meetings and dramatic productions run smoothly.
Learning how to use a hammer, a measuring tape and multiple types of saws (namely a chop saw, jigsaw, hand saw) provides the five girls enrolled with necessary life skills and valuable problem-solving techniques, according to Lowry. Practical skills like knowing how to properly use measuring tape can help students in their everyday lives as well as in Guild, enabling activities as diverse as measuring the lengths of pieces of wood for a play set and ordering the proper size carpet for a room.
Lowry says that he loves the Hammertime class because these basic handyman skills are usually deemed jobs for men. Girls who can handle manual labor on their own can prove to boys at other schools that woman are capable of more than just darning socks and cooking dinner. In the true Marlborough spirit, girls in Hammertime will show they can perform any manual labor task they set their minds to.
“The class gives the girls knowledge and confidence, knowing they can swing a 16-ounce hammer,” Lowry said.
In spite of Lowry’s goal of defying gender stereotypes, however, not all students seem to share his fervor for completely abandoning a certain female touch. Tina ’17 and Kylie ’17, who joined Hammertime to gain some experience before teching the All-School Play this fall, have already expressed an interest in making School productions slightly more colorful.
“We got to paint the floor in the [Stark Family] Intimate Theatre black. I stepped in the paint and almost fell!” Tina said, nervously laughing. “They made us paint it black, but we really wanted it to be pink with a sparkly M in the middle.”
Haeyun “Mickey” ’16, one of the two eighth graders in the class, decided to take Hammertime this year in hopes that the class would solidify her skills for Guild, which she joined last year. After participating in the after-school class, Mickey said she has started to look in craft magazines for DIY (do-it-yourself) projects that she hopes she’ll be able to successfully finish one day.
“Hammertime fine tunes your hand-eye coordination and teaches you the basics of the shop,” she said. “So far it’s been very interesting.”
Although the girls are learning vital life skills that will help them in the future, there is still evidence of their youthful innocence. As Lowry announced the girls would be using a chop saw on a recent Monday afternoon, they squealed in delight and anticipation.
“We’re using a saw? Oh my golly!” one girl said, as Lowry marched a piece of wood over to the chop saw and motioned the girls to gather round. “It sounds like the wood is screaming,” shrieked another, as Lowry practiced using the hand saw while instructing the students.
With the girls’ unbridled enthusiasm, Lowry hopes by the end of the class they will each be able to complete their own woodworking project. While Chong has her mind set on making a birdhouse, other students might simply be proud of the fact they can hang a framed photograph or poster up in their room.