TCHS students handcraft conference table

On Thursday December 8, 2016, A.M. students from the Coatesville Area School District and Bishop Shanahan High School in the TCHS Brandywine carpentry program helped to install the new executive conference table at the CCIU. The students got to be the one of the first people to sit at the executive conference table while their instructor, principal, the Director of Career, Technical & Customized Education Services and the Executive Director of the CCIU admire their work. (left to right) Dario Raysor (Bishop Shanahan), Tariq Scott (Coatesville), John Miller (Coatesville), Nathan Mowday (Coatesville), Scott Eddy (Instructor), Frank McKnight (Principal of TCHS Brandywine), Austin Seth (Coatesville), Dr. Joseph O’Brien (Executive Director of the CCIU), Dr. Kirk Williard (Director of Career, Technical & Customized Education Services at the CCIU), Renay Contrino (Coatesville), Eric Sandoe (Coatesville), Joe Kopec (Bishop Shanahan), and Michael Stanley (Coatesville).

DOWNINGTOWN — Seventeen carpentry students from the Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus became the first people to sit at the brand new, 12-foot, maple wood executive conference room table they built for the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). After spending hundreds of hours working on the custom table, estimated to be worth $8,000-$10,000 in retail value, these students installed the new table, which will be used by the CCIU’s Executive Director, Dr. Joseph O’Brien, to meet with superintendents, business leaders and high profile partners.

Students who participated in the project are from the Coatesville Area, Downingtown Area and West Chester Area School Districts and Bishop Shanahan High School. O’Brien reached out to the carpentry students at TCHS Brandywine when it became clear that the existing conference table wasn’t doing the job.

“Back in September, it became clear that we needed a new conference table pretty badly,” said O’Brien. “So rather than order one, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to get our TCHS students involved. They did not disappoint. From start to finish, they did an amazing job and delivered a top-notch product. I had every confidence that they would do so,” added O’Brien.

The remaining students who worked on the new conference table: (left to right) Jordan Sigel (Downingtown East), Miriam Sadler (Downingtown East), Dale Gross (West Chester Henderson), Connor Ford (Downingtown East), Alberto Sosa (Downingtown West), Scott Eddy (Instructor), Frank McKnight (Principal of TCHS Brandywine), Eric Steward (Downingtown West), Dr. Kirk Williard (Director of Career, Technical & Customized Education Services at the CCIU), Dr. Joseph O’Brien (Executive Director of the CCIU), Kyle Ryan (West Chester East), John Gaffney (West Chester East), DJ Hughes (West Chester East), and Corey McCue (West Chester East).

According to carpentry instructor Scott Eddy, producing a well-rounded student is the mantra by which he runs his program. “All my students are extremely capable. I truly believe that. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be a teacher,” said Eddy. 

“I tell my students that I don’t want them to ever settle with a job. I want them to be estimators, managers and business owners. That’s why we really stress the importance of higher education beyond TCHS. Out of the 37 students in my program, I have at least 20 that are currently taking a 1:1 articulation college course for college credits taught by me right now. People don’t always think of carpentry students as going onto college, but it’s something we really stress and support here. That’s something unique about TCHS,” said Eddy.

The focus on college is something that has really resonated with Eddy’s students. Senior carpentry students Tariq Scott and John Miller, both from the Coatesville Area School District, stressed the importance of working on high level projects like the executive conference table when applying for college. “I think it’s important that we can demonstrate that, not only do we have the technical background in carpentry, but that we have used it to create something of high quality,” said Scott.

Joe Kopec of Bishop Shanahan High School was so committed to the project that he showed up for the installation, even when his sending school had the day off. “I came in today even though I didn’t have to report. Maybe Mr. Eddy had something to do with that, but I wanted to see this through. It’s the same for my fellow Bishop Shanahan student Dario Raysor. He couldn’t be here today, but he’s been texting us about it to see what all the updates are,” said Kopec.

“This project really taught us a lot about teamwork and communication. Two different class sections spent hundreds of hours to create this table. We are all proud of what we accomplished,” said Kopec.

For student Miriam Sadler, a senior from Downingtown East High School, this project helped to give her a better idea of what she wants to do with her carpentry experience. “When I started at TCHS I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I was artistic and I thought that carpentry would be a good outlet for that. Plus, as a woman, I felt like it would be really empowering to learn a trade like carpentry so that I could have the skills to be self-reliant and, who knows, maybe build a house for myself someday,” said Sadler.

“This was perhaps the most artistic project I’ve done yet and it really solidifies that I want to specialize in more artisanal types of carpentry when I go to college next year,” said Sadler. 

Connor Ford, a senior from Downingtown East, saw this project as an opportunity to take advantage of Eddy’s vast experience. “The explanations and tricks that Mr. Eddy taught us really made this project special and insightful for me. I have already been accepted at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and I’m currently taking advantage of the dual-enrollment program for college credits while I am attending TCHS,” said Ford.

“I am actually the first person in my family to pursue a blue collar career. So, having projects like this that I can show to my family is really important. I love working with my hands and I am excited to take all the things I’ve learned to college and then to a career,” said Ford.

The A.M. section of carpentry, which contains students from Coatesville Area School District and Bishop Shanahan High School, dismantled the previous conference table and installed the frame for the new table on Thursday, December 8. The P.M. students, who come from the Downingtown Area and West Chester Area School Districts, installed the new table top and took away the previous table top to refurbish it.

“I am so proud of what my students did here. They took a project from an initial meeting with the client, Dr. O’Brien, through the design, building and installation process. And, they did all this with minimal direction from me. They used machines they had never used before to do the custom molding and they were able to use the Automotive Collision program’s equipment to stain the table. When the students signed the bottom of the table, put it in the room and received recognition from the administration of TCHS Brandywine and the CCIU, it made me so proud as a teacher,” said Eddy. 

More information about TCHS Brandywine’s Carpentry program may be found at

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