Hancock Schools Industrial Ed Classes a Community Resource | Michigan News
By CHRIS JAEHNIG, The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton)
At Hancock High School, industrial education classes taught by Gary Mishica do more than teach in-store skills to students who enroll; classes and students contribute to their school and their community in invaluable ways.
Recently, Mishica’s class had been working on a pair of black metal benches for Hancock Memorial Park, the materials purchased by American Legion Post 186.
Mishica told Houghton’s Daily Mining Gazette that the benches were one of two community projects her classes volunteered for; the benches of the memorial park, as well as the pergola of the Valley View Medical Center.
Both projects were launched last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the projects have been severely delayed.
“Corona sent us home,” he said. “So the other projects that we undertook last year were these benches for the veterans park. We started these last year, got into them, and then we all went home.
“We came back this year and we finished them, and they sat in the metal shop for a few months before we finally got them to powder coatings, they coated them for us, and then we were able to get them at the park. “
Mishica and her classes built the benches from scratch in the school shop.
“We did everything here; we took a straight two inch square tube, ”he said. “We cut it and folded it. We have a hydraulic bender. We made these beds, all these groups that you see in there on the tubes and even on the bands that make up the seats. We bent them with our Di-Acro bender.
“In addition, we just got a load of material delivered to us, all flat, and we went through the process of cutting, bending and welding. We made everything. The only thing we couldn’t do here was powder them. It’s pretty cool that we have the equipment, the skills and the operators to do it.
In addition to community projects, Mishica’s Metallurgy Workshop continues to hone her workshop skills as well as business acumen on the art of copper. The art of copper has always been special to him.
“Well, we’re still doing copper,” Mishica said. “It was major for us. We have been doing this since I started teaching here 36 years ago.
“I learned how to do it from Jack Anderson, who was the designer of the Bishop Baraga statue in Lake Linden, along with Art, Jake and Sheppy Garapi. Oh, that was 45, 47 years ago when I I was in second year, I was going to be a junior, I was hired by Jack Anderson to learn copper art.
Mishica cut her chops while working in Anderson’s Lake Linden gift shop making copper cattails, sailboats, and butterflies, and went on to college.
“I always knew I had that, and I had some experiences at university because I had welding courses that I had to take as a student in industrial education,” he said. he declares. “After college I started teaching at Hancock.”
Mishica knew when he started teaching 36 years ago, “that we are going to make copper art.” We started with the little things: butterflies, hummingbirds and seagulls. We haven’t done much with the boats. They kind of had their day, you know, then we added things like angels, and then we started doing little UPs. “
From these little UPs, a must-have Copper Country gift company was born.
“We found out that people really like those little high top shoes, so we said, ‘okay, let’s take a size bigger. So we went from 12 to 16 inches, ”Mishica said. “After that, things got interesting. One of the Michigan Tech fraternities or sororities, I don’t know who it was, maybe 10-15 years ago they said “could you make us one of those 48 inches long? “(a UP) and I go, ‘I can do this!’ And I said, ‘of course.’ So we did the first; we pounded it all up, we cut it up, painted it, colored it, lacquered it, and we sold it for about $ 150.
“They said, ‘you could have sold this to us for $ 250.’ I said, ‘Really?’ I was like, ‘Well, wait a minute, maybe we’re missing something here.’ “
The opportunity arose to teach his students how to run a small business.
“We’re doing all these little things and we’re doing $ 20 of them,” Mishica said. “So we started the big jobs, and the UPs took off like crazy. We sell these UPs for $ 8,000 to $ 9,000 each year. “
Copper UPs made by Hancock for Industrial Education can be found in three locations: Campioni’s in Calumet, Surplus Outlet in Houghton, and the Quincy Mine gift shop in Hancock.
“We found our niche and we could make some money because we didn’t have to do this little thing that took us two hours and made us $ 20,” he said. “We can make a big 48 inch UP, sell it for $ 200, and we make it close to $ 100. Obviously, our work is free. Children do that.
“I have estimated and calculated the time that each child should devote to the art of copper during the year, and it is two hours. Everyone contributes two hours and we can produce around 500 PU of different sizes. We offer them in seven sizes; 11 inches to 60 inches. That’s all we sell, UPs ”
Naturally, this led to other requests.
“Then we got requests for the LP,” he said. “People say, ‘Hey, I want an LP to go with the UP’ So we pretty much only make them to special order, but we do. We will do the LP, for those who want it.
Proceeds from copper art are reinvested in classroom supplies and equipment to help supplement classroom budgets.
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