On Mar. 22, Seattle Central College students and faculty at the Wood Technology Center (located at 23rd Avenue South and South Lane Street) gathered to commemorate another school quarter accomplished with a barbecue celebration. While congratulating students on their educational path, the center’s student council also honored those graduating from the satellite school.
Being in a space surrounded by students, faculty, and friends reminds those who enter the Wood Technology Center that community has always been a primary goal. When talking to a student at the center, Gaza Miller, it became obvious that passion is the driving force behind those who enter any course or program here.
“This community that we’ve built here, it’s something that I’ve never seen before in Seattle. Honestly, the people here, you know, they’re not the type to walk by you if you’re struggling,” Gaza began, continuing on to talk about how the center is an all-for-community building.
There are four programs within the tech building: carpentry, boat building and repair, residential construction, and pre-apprenticeship construction training (PACT). These programs don’t just help students with first time experiences, but they also provide networking opportunities to gain accessibility to local construction companies and carpentry businesses that are on the lookout for new talent. One of the major things the center wishes to do in the future is allow students to rent out power tools if needed.
With an energy of profound goodness at the barbecue, it was hard to detect a looming cloud possibly shrouding the center’s future. Last summer, The Seattle Times reported budget constraints that almost closed the center. Since then, there’s been a sense of unease amongst students. With little effort being made by the school itself, students and faculty at the center are continuing to feel that effect. “It’s all connected,” Gaza said, “by preventing that [effort by the school], you’re kind of showing that community is not your top priority.”
The Wood Technology Center’s student council, as well as students and other faculty, have reached out to local legislators. By being recognized by state legislators as a vital part of education, the program would be able to receive more funds. Letters have been tirelessly sent to legislation in order for this move to happen. During one of the speeches honoring the lifeline behind the program, a member of the student council revealed at least 2,317 letters had been sent to legislation.
According to a page created on the action network, savewtc.com, 2,377 letters have been sent with a goal of 3,200. A pre-written letter states the success of the program while also stating that a closure would be damaging to the community.
Love and passion is what fuels the program. Students and faculty all came together to put on the barbecue. One of the student council members even brought their own sound system to provide musical entertainment for attendees along with grills and food that would keep everyone in the courtyard happily full. The vitality behind the center, showcased by the barbecue, is the power fueling the center; community is where the center’s true strength comes from.
Acknowledging that the cuts and lack of funding aren’t due to animosity from the school, Gaza said, “I think it’s because we’re just so unknown. We’re seen as unimportant because nobody knows.” One of the goals the center has for incoming students is for everyone to be welcomed with open arms and big hearts. Gaining visibility for the Wood Technology Center will help revitalize the conversation behind saving the center from any future closure.