Most students can't wait to go home after school, but for the kids in the Promotion of Animal Welfare Safety club at Westview High School, their day is just getting started.
The club helps different organizations in the area by fundraising or planning projects for animals in need. With the help of the manufacturing club, PAWS students will build eight handmade training tables and cat scratchers for the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter in Hillsboro.
"A lot of us aren't 16 yet, and a lot of animal organizations require you to be 16 to volunteer there," said PAWS club member Katelyn Chen. "The people that are here are people who want to help animals but don't really have a way to do it."
Chen's family doesn't let her have pets at home, but Chen is fond of animals. The project was the perfect way for her to pick up a new skill and help animals at the same time, she said.
"We have drills, we have nails (and) we have basically all the equipment we need just to make the tables out there," Chen said, pointing at the equipment located in the workshop. "It's just trying to figure out how everything worked — and making sure the screw actually went into the hole, instead of our finger."
But the sophomore isn't learning alone. Career and technical education teacher Furl Kamakaala keeps a watchful eye over the students as they build.
"I just offer advice," Kamakaala said. "I don't do any of the cutting. So, for me, everything is student-driven."
When Kamakaala heard about the project for the animal shelter, he was excited to help the PAWS club, which is comprised of mostly girls.
"It is a shop manufacturing teacher's dream," added Kamakaala. "We strive to get the nontraditional students. When we get that many students, female students, minority students or a diverse ethnicity group of students, it's perfect."
The PAWS club has been working on the dog training tables for about five months. In two weeks or so, the animal shelter will have new tables for the animals to enjoy.
"We can teach (dogs) how to go up on something, like if they needed to get inside of a create," explained Karrie Johnson, volunteer coordinator for the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter. "The training enrichment is used with dogs here to make them more attractive to potential adopters."
Not only are the tables helpful, but they're also a big need for the shelter. Johnson describes the shelter's existing tables as "deteriorated," because the rain slowly piles on top of them.
"They're getting quite a big puddle in the center," said Johnson. "The paint is chipping. The wood is also chipping a little bit. We're a county facility, and the budget doesn't go so far."
Johnson was inspired when she saw how hard the students were working past the bell to help the shelter.
"These kids are really coming with a passion for animal welfare, but they're also building and furthering that exploration of that passion to help protect animals in need, which is what our mission is," she said. "(They are) furthering that path, and hopefully that will grow throughout the rest of their life."
Kamakaala wanted to make sure the shelter saw the students' hard work in real time. Chen also appreciates the center paying a visit before the tables are delivered.
"I definitely didn't expect that," Chen said. "It's really cool for them to see the progress that we've made, and to be able to know that someone really appreciates what we're doing here."
Chen doesn't plan on working with animals as a career, but she loves helping the community in any way she can.
"It's really exciting to know that whatever we're doing here is actually going to help an organization, because we're able to work through it together," said Chen.
She hopes other students are inspired to lead without waiting for others to do it for them.
"It's important for younger people to get involved," Chen said. "As adults, you do have more freedom, but it's nice to know that even though we're not adults yet, we're able to make a change and just help out."
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