Toolbox Tuesday Launches

Eighth graders began learning life skills during Toolbox Tuesdays this fall. They spend every other Tuesday’s Organizational Period focusing on a series of tasks – changing a tire, using power tools, cooking, ironing, tying ties, sewing on a button, building a fire, and tying fishing knots – under the direction of faculty. Six groups rotate among the stations, and they will compete the circuit by the end of the semester.
“The idea for Toolbox Tuesday originally came from Lower School Principal Loyal Murphy ’86, after he had observed outdoor skills being taught during Camp U in the summer,” says Science Instructor Nick Blackwell, who has spearheaded the project.

Blackwell brainstormed with Summer Programs Director Ted Fockler '10 about the skills boys need. “A central question became, ‘How can we prepare these guys not only for college, but for life in general?’ Toolbox Tuesday grew out of that.”

During one session Blackwell, Assistant Headmaster McKee Humphreys, and Lacrosse Head Coach Joe Cummings helped a group of eighth graders cook – and eat – Cacio e Pepe. The goal is to teach the boys how safely to prepare a meal on their own.

Another group split between Religion Instructor Elliott Dent and Assistant Lower School Principal Joe Tyler as they demonstrated how to properly tie bow ties and neckties.

Assistant Headmaster Barry Ray believes ironing is an essential skill for young Owls, so he gave instructions on how to properly iron a collared shirt. Art Instructor Laura Beck helped the boys learn how to sew a button on a shirt.

Science Instructor Garrett Smithson put his science knowledge to work teaching Owls how to build an outdoor fire safely using a striker and flint. History Instructor Whit Tenent ’00 aided the young men in properly tying a variety of fishing knots. Both are essential skills for outdoorsmen.

Physical Education Director Matt Bakke and Physical Education Instructor Kyle Finney educated their group on how to safely use jumper cables and correctly change a flat tire. These are skills that will stick with the students when they start driving in a few years.

Technical Director of Theater Robert Fudge and Fockler took over the Hyde Chapel stage to demonstrate how to operate a cordless drill, essential knowledge for countless home improvement projects.

“Toolbox Tuesday is our way of teaching the whole boy,” Blackwell said, “giving him skills that go beyond the classroom.”

See more photos from the event HERE.