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New England students get chance to shine

Sixth annual design competition allowed region's high schoolers to show off the best of their craftsmanship

First-place winner Destiny Desroaches' jewelry box, made from ash and curly maple.

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The sixth annual New England Student Woodworking Design Competition was a hit, to say the least, featuring entries that exuded stellar craftsmanship by amateur high school woodworkers. Hosted by and held at Marlborough High School in Marlborough, Mass., May 26 - 29, the contest featured work from 40 students representing 10 high schools throughout New England.

Competition coordinator Ken Hanson, a technology engineering teacher at Marlborough High, brought the program from its former venue at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Mass., when he accepted the teaching position last year. He says the goal of the contest is to bring students together to show off their projects and introduce them to the potential employers. Local and national wood industry companies sponsor the awards.

"I think getting businesses involved with these high schools is one of the most important parts of this contest because it provides them with opportunities after they graduate. We had a multitude of different companies get involved this year," says Hanson.

There were about 28 awards given out on May 29. The $500 first prize was donated by iLevel by Weyerhaeuser. Other cash and gift certificate prizes ranged from $25 to $300.

Destiny Desroaches, a senior at Winnisquam Regional High School in Tilton, N.H., took home the first prize for an intricately built jewelry box made out of ash and curly maple. This was Desroaches' fourth year in the contest.

"Every year she makes something that has a lot of bends to it. She's an extraordinary woodworker," says Hanson.

The second-prize winner was Steven Izen from Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Mass. for his oak/wenge globe sculpture. He earned a $300 prize from Keiver-Willard Lumber Corp.

The third-prize winner was Kathleen Durgin of Salem High School in Salem, N.H. for her mahogany and walnut bowls. She won a $300 prize from the Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers.

Other sponsors include W.J. Cox Associates Inc., Society of American Period Furniture Makers, Woodmeister Master Builders in Holden, Mass., and the New England Architectural Woodwork Institute.

The annual competition is open to any type of high school in New England. A call for entries will be issued later this fall. Hanson can be reached via e-mail at

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.

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