Machinist class gaining popularity at Yakima School of the Arts - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Machinist class gaining popularity at Yakima School of the Arts

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YAKIMA, Wash.--  A new class at the Yakima School of the Arts alternative high school is becoming wildly popular and it's keeping kids in school.  The "Machinist Class" opened up its shop doors this past December. It's part of the Career and Technical Education, or CTE, Program where students often learn classroom lessons in a hands-on environment. 

Clifford Owens, a 9th grader in the Machinist Class, says the class has helped him stay in school, explaining, "First, I started out not really going to school because I really didn't find no interest in it, so after I started coming to School of the Arts, I heard there was a Machinist shop class coming."  Owens gave it a shot and now he never misses a day of class.  Using tools like a band saw, lathe machine, and sander, he's made everything from nuts and bolts, to rings, to flowers, all while learning math lessons.  Owens says, "My math, it's improving.  I'm able to count in my head on a micrometer, and it's fun."

Math and fun are not usually two things you hear in the same sentence said by a high schooler.  The director of the CTE Program, Bruce Mortimer, says that's the point.  He explains, "We're teaching kinesthetically.  We're teaching them hands-on.  We're offering the same things in different ways, to the same rigorous, high standards."

One project the Machinist students are working on is making a toolbox.  "When they're doing their toolboxes and some of these areas, they're learning geometry to the Washington State math standards," Mortimer says.

Mortimer says this method of teaching is catching on and more students want to learn in the shop, rather than out of the book. He says, "Students are fighting to get in now, to be honest, they're very excited."

Right now, Mortimer is working so that Machinist students can get college credit for the class.