by Rob Glidden
The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) club at Southington High School is about to complete an ambitious effort to create memorial plaques for the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“They wanted to do a meaningful hands-on project for the people in Newtown who went through this tragedy,” said SHS guidance counselor Lee Ann Miller, the club’s advisor.
The club has about 15 active members who have spent the past few months crafting wooden hearts with the names of the 26 victims of the tragedy listed on them. The names are each inside a puzzle piece design that was engraved with a laser.
“I think they look awesome,” said Monika Arbaciauskaite, the club’s president. “We haven’t had a big project like this since the club started. It’s really exciting.”
Several teachers involved with the Project Lead the Way program came up with the design of the hearts but it was up to the students to create them.
“I’m very proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish,” said SHS technology teacher Justin Mirante. “This was a large endeavor and they’ve done a great job.”
Students were responsible for carving the heart shapes out of the wood, sanding and staining the plaques and coating them with polyurethane.
“It’s been really good,” said student Ellie Lefkovich. “We got to use the hand-sander, the laser printer and a lot of other machines in the wood shop.”
In addition to valuable practice with powerful machines, the students were also grateful for the chance to reach out to the people of Newtown.
“Money donations are something that will come and go but this is something sentimental that will stay with them,” said student Kelly Craven.
The wooden hearts will eventually be mounted on a backdrop to complete the work. At a recent meeting of the club, students were carrying around piles of wooden hearts to various stations in order to finish the process.
“We’ve made a lot of them,” said student Elizabeth Gwara. “Each of the families will get one, but we want to keep some around here just so we can remember.”