After classes on Tuesdays, you might notice something out of the ordinary at Jefferson High School.
If you venture out behind the school, you’ll encounter several students eagerly hammering hot metal near fiery forges. Welcome to Blacksmithing Club—a vision of Rob Rawlins, a special education teacher at Jefferson.
Rawlins noticed that a portion of the industrial tech area—where Blacksmithing Club is located—wasn’t being utilized. Inspired by his personal blacksmithing hobby, he initiated the club and invited students to participate this school year.
“I have about 20 [kids] on the list,” Rawlins explains “These are the hard-core kids right here.”
One of those students is Kai, a freshman at Jefferson. Something about blacksmithing always interested him.
“I felt like I needed to do something after school and this was available,” he says. “So, I said ‘why not?’”
Another student is Lauren, a Jefferson junior. She takes the unpredictable nature of blacksmithing in stride.
“I’m trying to create a torque [a forged necklace]; it may or may not work,” she says. “If it rusts, it’s not going to look pretty.”
“I like hands-on things; I like creating things,” she adds. “Blacksmithing kind of brings it all together.”
When they join the club, Rawlins teaches students the basics of blacksmithing and emphasizes safety. Once they are comfortable around a forge and hot metal, he gives them more freedom to initiate their own projects. Long-term, Rawlins hopes the club will continue to expand and that more students will become passionate about this ancient trade.
“Once you start hitting metal, it’s kind of addictive,” he says.