Sharing the art of construction


Niomy Gomez

Senior Michael Mendoza was specially picked to work in wood shop with the amigos club to help in the special day class. ” I like assisting my peers cut up the wood and watching them put it together and then for them to be proud of the masterpiece they have created,” Mendoza stated.

Natalie Gomez, Arts & Entertainment Section Editor/ Staff Writer

In the last few days of September, woodshop teacher Mr. Appel began a new interactive Construction Tech class with his Woodshop students, the Special Day Class, and the Amigos Club at Downey High School.


The program originated from an idea Mr. Appel had when he was faced with a free period in his schedule. He decided to create a class with the help of administrators, along with other teachers and staff, who saw a need for it. Here the special day students were able to interact with other students in order to build hands on projects and learn skills that will ultimately prepare them for their futures outside of high school.


“One of the reasons we decided to put a class like this together is to allow our Special Ed students to be integrated into our General Ed classes more,” assistant principal Dr. Kathy Estevez said. “This will teach them career skills that they will need to be productive members of our society and our community.”


One of the SDC students, sophomore David Mariscal said he’s made new friends through this class and the mentors are helping him with his projects. He also explained how this class reminds him of when he sands wood with his own father.


Despite the multiple reasons behind the new construction class, the ultimate goal is to provide the students with an opportunity to learn skills that will assist them after they graduate.


“With this class we hope to achieve a breakthrough of some of their learning difficulties, equip them with life skills, and promote an effective and fun learning environment,” Mr. Appel said.


With a load of new responsibilities, Mr. Appel called upon the Amigos Club and one of his best woodshop students, senior Michael Mendoza, to lend him a hand.


Mendoza is the current teacher’s aid for this new construction class. He was chosen to be Mr. Appel’s right hand man because of his patience and skills in construction. Since Mr. Appel can only do so much on his own, Mendoza is there to provide as much assistance as he can.


“Mr. Appel chose me individually to cut out the wood pieces from the plan and then help everyone else while the Amigos Club members work one-on-one with the kids,” Mendoza said. “I enjoy myself in this class because all of the kids seem happy to be working with other students, and they get really excited when they get to take their projects home.”


Not only was Mendoza selected by Mr. Appel, but Special Day Class teachers Mr. Gallegos and Ms. Orona had a say in which Amigos mentors were eligible to participate. Senior Isaak Herrerias is one of the seven Amigos mentors who got the opportunity to ultimately influence the life of another student.


Herrerias works with the kids to carve, build, and paint wooden projects, and he’s also there to make the students feel welcome. Herrerias accepted the offer to join because he felt that this was an amazing opportunity where he is able to show the kids that they’re as much of a part of Downey High School as any other student.


“As Amigo mentors, we’re there to support them and get them to open up to us so they feel comfortable around other students,” Herrerias said. “Personally, making them smile and feel wanted makes me happy. If I can make one of their days, I feel like I did something to help society.”


Although this Construction Tech class just began, it has the potential to change the perspectives of select students at this school and is expected to stay as a yearlong class as they work on projects such as name plates, 3D piggy banks, and leather bracelets.