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Willmar, Minn., student creates wood plaques for iCardinals recognition wall at high school

Preston Asche, a Willmar senior, stands alongside a showcase of laser-engraved wood plaques naming the top donors of the iCardinals project, which raised funds to help provide iPads for students. Asche made the plaques for a class project. The recognition wall is in the Willmar Senior High School commons area. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — Engraved blocks of cherry wood make up the iCardinals Campaign recognition wall in the commons area of Willmar Senior High, thanks to senior Preston Asche.

The recognition wall names the 130 top donors to the campaign to help provide Apple iPad tablet computers for all juniors and seniors. Business and individuals across the community donated to the effort. The Willmar School District also used its capital equipment budget to pay for iPads, which were issued to students last fall.

School officials involved in developing the iPad program wanted to develop the recognition wall locally. They turned to John Wilson, an industrial technology teacher, for advice.

Wilson said he thought of Asche right away when asked about making the wall a student project.

Asche joked about his reaction the day he was called to the office to talk about the wall. “I knew something was up,” he said, “and I didn’t do anything wrong that day, so … ”

Asche worked on the wall as an independent study class for one term.

Planning and measuring took up a lot of time, Asche said.

“It was a lot of work figuring out the spacing and stuff,” he said. He needed to get the 130 names into the trophy case in the school’s commons area and make the design flexible enough to accommodate more plaques if needed for future donors.

There was also a lot of discussion between the administration and the designers, Wilson said. “It took a while to figure out what we wanted and get it to mesh together.”

After designing and measuring the wall, he cut the 3-by-5 plaques to size, sanded the edges, applied a coat of polyurethane and engraved them using the school’s laser engraver.

After the engraving, he glued backs on the plaques and applied another coat of poly.

The engraving was one of the less labor intensive steps in the process, he said. He entered sizes and text into the computer and chose the fonts and spacing. The laser engraver did the work after that.

Asche said he enjoyed doing the recognition wall and likes working with wood.

“I always work on my own stuff,” he said, but he isn’t really isn’t interested in a career in carpentry. He has worked part-time at the Kandiyohi County Landfill and hopes to continue doing that after he graduates and while he attends Ridgewater College.

So far, only one of the plaques has a logo, but donors who are interested in having logos on their plaques are welcome to contact him, Wilson said. Wilson said everyone was pleased with Asche’s work on the wall.

Having the iPads has been an advantage this year at the high school, Wilson said.

In industrial technology classes, it’s been helpful for students with iPads to keep records of progress on their projects. Some students have found projects they’d like to try online, too.

Sometimes, students find apps that are useful, like some sketching programs, Wilson said.

When sophomores get iPads next year, he will be able to do even more in his classes because more students will have them, Wilson said.

In the future, he envisions having groups of students make safety videos in the shop, having students keep folders of their work on the iPads and using email for assignments.

Asche agreed that the iPads have been useful this year, especially in communications class and its senior portfolio. “You can work on it anywhere,” he said. “You don’t have to write it out and type it on a computer.”

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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