By Don Rush

I reckon after all these years I can finaly get off my chest a secret I have harbored.
It’s time.
Time to unburden myself, to become guilt free after decades of deceit and living in silent shame. Lo’ these many years have I been your guiding light, dear readers, your seeker of truth, justice and the American way — let’s just admit it, your sweater-vested hero.
And yes, I have received critical acclaim both nationally and here in Michigan for writing Don’t Rush Me, editorials and feature stories. Alas, truth be told, it has all been predicated on a lie. Built on a wobbly foundation has been my equally flimsy house of cards.
The lie started in high school, during those thrilling days of yesteryear when I meekly strolled the halls of Clarkston High School. I was able to attend a public university in part because I received academic scholarships. Yup, yours truly was in the top 10 percent of his 500-plus graduating class, based on Grade Point Average. (I think I was like 35th in the class.)

Nobody ever confused me with a brainiac.

Was I smart in the sciences? Nope, no physics for me. Math? Nope. I made it all the way through algebra 2. English? Oh, don’t even go there! My high school English teachers were aghast that one such as I — one not wise in the ways of such little things as “punctuation” and “sentence structure” and “spelling” — would choose a career based on having good English skills.

It was easy for me to have nice GPA.

After my first semester of high school (back in those days that meant the 10th grade), I took more and more woodshop classes, under the tutelage of one Mr. DJ Marsh (good man). Second semester of 10th grade, I had woodshop 2 and was an aide. Two hours outta’ seven not readin’, writin’ or ‘rithmetictatin’ but shopping it.
For my junior and senior years at good ol’ CHS, I increased that woodshop load by 50 percent! Vocational woodshop (2 hours) and woodshop aide (1 hour) meant I was in the shop three hours a day for my last two years of high school. And, because of this flim-flammery I got an academic scholarship allowing me to attend college.
I just pretended to be smart. Or I lied that I wasn’t stupid. Take your pick, it all means the same thing. It meant I went to college with scholarships instead of taking my ability to cut wood and grow a beard into the Armed Services.

Wood shop saved my bacon!

Fast forward (oh, let’s do the math in my head) 36 years and I was given the opportunity to visit the place which occupied so much of my teen live — the wood shop (I just did some quick math with a pencil and scratch pad. According to my calculations, I spent about 1,350 hours in wood shop) Of course, the old high school is now the same aged building now housing Clarkston Junior High.
I admit, I got lost in the hallway when I tried to figure my way back out of the school — went straight when I should have taken a left, but whatever, I am getting off track.
As Principal Adam Kern led me to my old stomping grounds, I was ready to make a right into the old wood shop entrance. But, it wasn’t there! It changed. I had to walk through two more halls and take two more right turns before I came to what was the old woodshop — now home to Clarkston Construction Tech (CCT).
What a wonderful program!
Headed up by Steve Wyckoff and Jeff Peariso, CCT introduces students to the skilled trades. Using national trade union partnership training manuals, students become proficient in understanding construction concepts, safety requirements and hands-on training with materials and tools.
This class is working in the community. One of their projects is rehabbing the old Sashabaw Presbyterian Church. The 1856 building has been vacant for years and in need of much repair. Though this project, students will learn wiring, construction, math and the all important task of giving a hoot about the job at hand. They started this spring and have already repaired a handicap ramp. Their plan is to start cleaning up the basement, make repairs and then move up and do the same on the next floor up.
I was awe-struck and not a little envious of this program over the shop classes back in my day. Wyckoff, who I actually went to school with, said partnerships in the community are essential for the success of the program. I asked what message he would send out to the community. Answered he, “Guess any message would be to let the community know we are looking for construction type jobs to help local veterans or disabled individuals. Activities to get our students into a ‘real job’ situations.”

Here’s a photo of a neat little wood sign the class made for me.  Thanks, CCT! If not, go online and check it out, it is pretty danged cool. (And, thank you, DJ Marsh for giving me the opportunity to go to college — and work for a living.)

Oh, and please don’t hate me for the clutter about my desk!
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2 Responses to "Woodshop, not Home Ec, saved Don’s bacon"

  1. Dave Whitehead   October 25, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Boy the memories you send. I had wood shop at CHS with Dick Moscovic. Steve Wyckoff is a friend to my entire family and a guy I coached with and against in football and track. Jeff Peariso is an old friend to my wife and I. I went to Bible classes in the basement of that old church when I grew up just down the road and my wife attended services there when she moved to Clarkston. Thanks Don.

  2. Cory Johnston   October 25, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Let us not forget that what some may regard as lowly woodshop classes did lead to a college education, a title, and an office in the penthouse of the Clarkton News building for one Donald Rush. Not bad. Steven Wyckoff is now teaching other students needed and worthy trades. Let us also not forget your fellow classmate Steven Percival who after a military career and other leadership positions, is now Mayor of the City of the Village of Clarkston. As Dr. Rock likes to say, Wolves Achieve.


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