Students use Van Antwerp Middle School technology room as Santa’s workshop

INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER
Sixth grade students at Van Antwerp gathered together to create truck crayon holders for Toys for Tots and Adopt-a-Family. 
Wednesday, Dec.7, 2016.INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER Sixth grade students at Van Antwerp gathered together to create truck crayon holders for Toys for Tots and Adopt-a-Family. Wednesday, Dec.7, 2016.

BY Indiana Nash

Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA- For the month of December, a group of Van Antwerp students are working in Niskayuna’s version of Santa’s toy shop.

They sometimes serve as the elves of the school thanks to teachers Thomas Blechinger, Michael Petrone and Valentina Krauss.

Twice a week, 15 sixth grade students step into the technology room and work to create multiple crayon holders that double as toy trucks.

They’ll be donating the toys to Adopt-A-Family and to Toys-For-Tots.

“We have 12 families at Van Antwerp that we’ve adopted this year,” Blechinger said.

Students will be making at least 20 of the toys, to be divided between the two organizations.

For Blechinger, it’s a great opportunity not only to serve families around the Capital Region but also to help get sixth graders interested in technology.

“We used to have technology classes for sixth grade, but we stopped about three or four years ago,” Blechinger said.

Since then, only seventh and eighth-grade students have been privy to the technology rooms, even though they’re in the sixth-grade wing of the school.

“This gets them excited,” Blechinger said.

On December 7, which was the third toy-making session, the students (or elves), were taught how to use a variety of drills, how to make relief cuts and proper sanding techniques.

After a brief explanation of how each tool and technique worked, students immediately began working away with the concentration expected of a practiced assistant of Mr. Claus.

“I just want to make other people happy. I’m spoiled and I know I am so I want other people to be just as spoiled,” said sixth-grader Michael Marshall.

Other students agreed, saying that while it was fun to be in the technology room and get to learn a few tricks before they reached seventh grade, they were mostly there because they wanted to help other kids have a better holiday season.

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