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Kiski Area students answer Sept. 11 call

| Sunday, May 19, 2002

Students in the second-level manufacturing class at Kiski Area High School are leading with their hearts by thinking in terms of triangles.

Rather than working on independent projects, they are joining a national effort to provide each of the families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with triangle-shaped boxes to house the flags the families received when their loved ones were buried.

Typically, the students complete projects that cater to their individual interests. But this year, at the suggestion of their teacher, Dean Ridgeway, they are constructing 20 boxes of oak, walnut and glass.

The boxes most likely will go to families of fallen police officers or civilians, Ridgeway said.

Ridgeway intended to give the project to his first-level manufacturing students, who at the end of the term focus on a mass-production project. He wanted them to do something in memory of the tragedy.

But after researching the project - which is spear-headed by an organization called Woodworkers United for America - Ridgeway decided the boxes were too complicated for the first-level class to manufacture.

The first-level class, how-ever, did not lose the general theme Ridgeway had in mind, and is, instead, manufacturing red, white and blue wind chimes.

"The whole idea was for the students to produce a practical memorial to Sept. 11," Ridgeway said.

When he stumbled onto the idea for the boxes, Ridgeway said he realized it was the project he was looking for.

The students are responding well to the project, according to Ryan Cupec, a student whose employer, PDC Glass and Metal Distributors in Cheswick, provided the glass for the boxes.

Babcock Lumber sold the school the wood at a reduced price.

The boxes are about 26-inches wide at the base and stand about 17 inches tall.

"Everybody feels really good about the project," Cupec said. "The boxes are something nice for the families to keep."

Ridgeway said that about half the class recently spent more than two hours after school working on the project. The class continues to work on the project, he said.

"It's one of those things where, as an adult, you tend to look at what happened on Sept. 11 a little differently," Ridgeway said. "It's good to see the students so enthusiastic about the project."

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