Enterprise High School's Drafting Students
By Laura Christman
Photo by Sarah Marie Spectrum
Drew Johns designed his dream home—all 10,000 square feet of it. He gave it a “retro-modern” vibe with plenty of luxury touches. The kitchen, for example, has a mirror ceiling and wraparound bar with under-counter lighting. The color scheme is black and yellow.
No surprise there. Those are the colors of Enterprise High School in Redding, where Drew begins his senior year in August. He’s one of 50 students from Rick Wolford’s drafting classes whose house designs will be featured at the California State Fair in Sacramento in July.
Wolford invites his students to turn a classroom assignment into an entry for the fair’s California Student Showcase. When he first offered that option 10 years ago, five students took him up on the challenge.
“It sort of has taken off from there,” Wolford says, noting that about a third of his 160 to 170 drafting students now enter.
Enterprise has earned a winning reputation.
“Over the last 10 years, Enterprise has placed more students than any other school in California in the category of CAD (computer-aided design) 3-D renderings and pictorials,” Wolford says.
He’s been at Enterprise 15 years and a teacher for 34 years. In 2013-14, Wolford was honored as the high school teacher of the year for Shasta County. His drafting students learn computer design and 3-D printing, as well as old-fashioned hand-drafting.
“I wouldn’t feel right if they couldn’t identify a T-square or templates,” Wolford says. “It’s so low-tech that it’s pretty fun for them.”
At Enterprise, drafting is hands-on, project-based learning.
“They have to use a lot of critical thinking. It is a lot of problem solving,” Wolford says.
Drafting, metalworking and woodworking – the areas Wolford concentrated on in college – have been squeezed by declining revenues and enrollment, as well as a push for more academic classes over the years. But the value of vocational education is getting more attention recently, Wolford says. A class like drafting benefits students whether they go into the trades or onto a four-year college.
Senior Herman Tierney signed up for Drafting 1 as a junior to satisfy the district’s computer proficiency requirement for graduation.
“I started to realize this is something more than just a computer class,” he says.
He put his house plans in the state fair competition last year and went to Sacramento to witness them on display. “It was cool to see how everyone else made theirs,” he says.
Herman took Drafting II senior year, concentrating on design with 3-D printing.
“The value of learning this is pretty much learning how to work out your problems,” he says. If something doesn’t work – and it often doesn’t at first – he’s learned, “I’ll just figure it out.”
Wolford says students enjoy the open-endedness of the house plans assignment. “They like that they can be creative.”
“It’s really fun,” says Alex Pierson, a senior.
She designed a four-bedroom, 3,611-square-foot home and entered the plans in the state fair. Her house makes the most of natural light, with French doors and lots of windows.
“You learn a bit about yourself, the kinds of things you like and don’t like,” she says.
“I can make it my way,” says Drew of his 10,000-square-foot design. “It’s like Burger King, except the house edition.”
He worked on his plans in class and during many of his lunch periods.
Sophomore Adam Shoff says after putting so much time into creating plans for a 3,900-square-foot cedar-sided home, it made sense to enter them in the fair. Is architecture a field he might pursue?
“I don’t know,” Adam says, “but it sure is fun.”
The assignment covers concepts of house layout, construction and construction materials. Wolford also talks to the students about costs, including how interest on a 30-year home loan adds to the price tag of a house.
“It’s not just the building side, but the consumer side as well,” he notes.
The house assignment covers about 15 weeks of class time.
Wolford heads to Sacramento every summer to view his students’ work at the state fair.
“It’s good for me,” he says. “I can see what other schools are doing. I am competitive by nature myself. It pushes me to be ahead of the curve.”
California State Fair, July 14–30
1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento