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Pursuit: Co-op students learn skills as part of community Hiking Trail project

Co-op students, from Lake Superior High School has been working on a special project for their community, to enhanced a popular walking trail.

TERRACE BAY— This past October, the last bench for the summer season was installed along the Casque Isles trail.

The Casque Isles Hiking Trail is a 53-kilometre wilderness recreational trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior. With five segments and 11 access locations, the trail can be day-hiked easily enough as well as through-hiked from either end.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Schreiber’s Casque Isles hiking club had some extra funds and was looking to build and install some benches along the hiking trail. Willing to provide the materials and support needed, they decided to approach their local high school.

After some thought and consideration, and during a time when life was guided by COVID-19 restrictions, shop class teacher Maurice Thiboutot took on the challenge. His co-op students, including Brett Semple, each agreed to help build these benches.

The project was set to begin as soon as in-person learning resumed at the schools. In total the project included building seven benches.

This project was not an easy task, considering the benches required some technical parts which in Thiboutot’s view would challenge the skill set of his students. The need to learn the safe use of special tools would be required.

“This was a challenging project for the students. Although the benches seem to be a simple design there were some technical parts which challenged the skill set of the students. There were several dados and rabbet joints which had to be cut using a circular saw and chisel,” he said.

In spite of the challenges, the students were able to experience a real-world application of the basics of construction.

“There were also several complex angles which made the assembly process challenging. Overall, the benches presented a wonderful opportunity to give the students a real world application of the many basic construction skills they work on in the classroom,” said Thiboutot.

He was proud of all the students involved with this project and commended one in particular who played a key role.

“My Co-op student at the time, Brett Semple, played a huge role in construction of several of the benches. Moreover, the students really invested in the 'community enhancement' nature of the project," he said.

Thiboutot enjoys working on community projects and likes to display the work completed by his shop students.

“I do routine work in the community and I love to showcase the work done by both myself and his students,” he said. Each of the students involved gained valuable knowledge and experience and were rewarded by a great sense of pride in a project that would be visible for years to come.

Their community, people who used the Casques Isles Hiking Trail, and visitors alike will see these beautiful masterpieces when they visit the site and walk along the trail.

“There was a sense of pride and ownership which was apparent through the construction process,” he said.

These benches will be an added enjoyable feature as hiking trail users can come take part in the trails and sit to view the enviable natural beauty that surrounds the area.