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Winning Football and Woodshop

In the annals of prep school football history, Kettle Moraine High School is the first to have a quarterback to lead his team to a state title, receive All-State honors, and earn a Sawblade Certificate from the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. Winning Football and Woodshop.

All three of these feats were accomplished last year by Chase Spellman, who helped guide the Kettle Moraine Lasers to a 27-10 victory over the West De Pere Redbirds in the Wisconsin’s 2022 Division 2 Championship game. Spellman, who earned his Sawblade Certificate last May, is in good company. Thirty-two of his teammates have also successfully completed their WCA skills training during their tenures at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis. One dozen of the champion Lasers were among the 49 students who attained their WCA Sawblade Certificates last fall.

As a technology education instructor and assistant coach of the Kettle Moraine varsity football team, Carl Grunewald got to celebrate the students’ achievements in the woodshop and on the gridiron. While he’ll have to wait until the start of the 2023-24 academic year to help prepare the Lasers to defend their state title, Grunewald is geared up to help another class of students earn their Sawblade Certificates this spring.

Popular Woodworking

The record number of Sawblade Certificates that were awarded in the fall speaks volumes about the high school woodworking program’s commitment to teaching students industry best-practices structured around the WCA Skill Standards. The numbers also attest to the popularity of woodworking as an elective of choice for Kettle Moraine students.

“Our woodshop program is one of the most popular on campus,” Grunewald says. “It’s certainly the most popular within our department.”

Grunewald currently teaches about 60 students spread across three Woods Design & Fabrication 1 classes. About 30% of the students are freshmen with the remainder being pretty much evenly split among the other three grade levels. While the Woods 1 classes are geared toward teaching beginning level woodworking, they are much more intensive than one might think.

“Because of our school’s block schedule, students are in woodworking class for 85 minutes a day, five days a week,” Grunewald says. “The block schedule is really nice because they can get a lot more done than they would if we had the typical 45 minutes a day for class time especially when you consider set up and clean up can cut into about 15 minutes of each day’s class. With the blocks, students are actually taking a full year of woodworking in one semester.”


The project-based course is structured around the Woodwork Career Alliance Skill Standards. Students are exposed to the design process, product development and production. They also learn fabrication processes and equipment operation while designing and producing wood products individually or in teams. In addition to classic woodworking equipment, the high school’s woodshop has a CNC router, 3D printer and laser engraver. As the students learn how to safely set up and operate a table saw, planer and other popular woodworking equipment, the they have the opportunity to work toward achieving their WCA Sawblade Certificate.

Grunewald’s colleague Scott Bruening teaches the Wood Design & Fabrication 2 class for students looking to take their woodworking skills to the next level. In addition to covering more advanced tool and equipment operations, students learn how to develop a detailed bill of materials and work on larger scale construction projects. Both instructors are WCA Accredited Skill Evaluators.

“Because we only have one woodshop in the building running four blocks every day, we would have to add a second woodshop if we wanted to add a Woods 3 or other classes,” Grunewald notes.

Winning Football and Woodshop

About Woods 1 Projects

The first hands-on project Woods 1 students tackle is making a key rack using only hand tools with the exception of operating a drill press. “This allows me to kind of see where everyone is at and the kids get an understanding of wood as a material,” Grunewald says. “I always tell them that woodworking is a practiced patience. They’ll learn by sanding something by hand or by cutting a piece of wood with a coping saw, then filing it that you have to take your time with this.”

Students are introduced to more power equipment for their second project. They learn how to use a bandsaw, router table, belt sander and drum sander to make a push stick out of plywood.

“After that they do the WCA widget board,” Grunewald says. “That’s where I introduce the table saw, miter saw, planer and jointer. I just introduce a little bit of equipment setup and operation at a time for reasons of safety.”

Next up, students learn the glue-up process by making a cutting board. They proceed to making a wooden box with a sliding top. “This teaches them how to do glued-up parts with rabbets, put in kerfs, and add the sliding top and bottom during assembly.”

“The final project is what I call an office organizer,” Grunewald says. “It’s a stand for their cell phone, head phones, jewelry and other things like that. “They do dadoes, they rabbet, and learn more about glue-up process.”


Students are evaluated on the safe and successful set-up and operation of core equipment required to earn their Sawblade Certificates.

“The certificate is a culmination of everything they learned,” Grunewald says. “We don’t do exams per se, the test itself is kind of like the final exam.”

“We know that most of the kids in our program are planning on going to a four-year college. Still, they realize that might not be their path, that they might want to do something else,” Grunewald says. “Getting a certificate is an important accomplishment for their personal growth. It shows that their skills have been assessed based on industry standards and that they know how use machinery properly. Even if they go into a different trade than woodworking, the certificate shows an employer that this person is trainable. That’s a big advantage.”

Winning Football and Woodshop

Source: Winning Football and Woodshop

Winning Football and Woodshop


Kettle Moraine Students Win on the Gridiron and in the Woodshop

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