Rocking the swamp | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 16, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 14, 2018 at 1:44 pm

TCTC students build giant rocking chair for wildlife sanctuary.

What stands about 13 feet tall, weighs about 900 pounds and will officially take up residency at the Detreville Street entrance of the Walterboro Wildlife Center on Feb. 26 at 11 a.m.?
It’s an oversized red rocker, the result of a partnership of the Walterboro-Colleton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Colleton Class of 2016 and the Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center’s Construction Technology Class.
Michelle Strickland, Walterboro Tourism Director and member of the Leadership Colleton Class of 2016, contacted Construction Technology Instructor Mike Swearingen last spring about his students building the oversized rocker.
“I said I had never done it before, but I could try,” Swearingen said.
But that conversation was late in the school year. “We could not do it then, we did not have enough time,” he said.
When this school year started, Swearingen was back in contact with Strickland and she provided the vocational students the material they would need. “She was great to work with — we never had to ask for anything,” he said.
Strickland said the members of Leadership Colleton really wanted to partner with the students on this community project. They hope, she added, that the success of this partnership will lead to others.
Strickland said she was pleased with the enthusiasm the Construction Technology Class showed in the project. “It was a fun challenge for them,” she said.
The first thing Swearingen did was find an old rocking chair. “I basically took everything and multiplied it by four,” Swearingen said. “It was a lot harder than that, but that was basically what I did as far of my dimensions.”
Then he had to come up with ways to have the rocker carry all that weight. “I had to make sure that the joints didn’t crack.” The chair required some reinforcement to ensure all the parts stayed together.
The Construction Technology students were involved in almost all phases of the design and construction. “There were some things they could not do because I made stuff as I went along,” Swearingen said.
The first step for the students was putting the design down on paper. They did working drawings used in traditional drafting.
“I feel there is still a need for traditional drafting, for smaller jobs and stuff. I prefer hand drawings, blue prints,” Swearingen said. “All Construction Technology students have to draw, have to learn to do some drafting.”
He feels having that ability, that experience, is beneficial even though the advent of computer-aided drafting is making the traditional method a dying art.
Actual construction of the rocker was the next step for the students. “Everyone contributed,” Swearingen said.
If one facet of the work was not completed when the 16 students in the Construction Technology II students were finished with their morning lab work, the students in the Construction Technology I class finished the work.
“We looked like a bunch of absent-minded professors for about four months,” Swearingen said.
The rocker is made out of No. 2 pine.
“Treated lumber is great in some cases but as long as it has got a good coat of paint on it, you can use any kind of wood,” Swearingen explained. Houses were made out of this type of pine long before treated lumber.”
Using the pine, he said, has another advantage in producing what will be the largest red rocker on the Front Porch of the Lowcountry. “Treated lumber and paint don’t get along.”
“My only fear was that it wasn’t going to work,” Swearingen said. When the construction project was complete, Swearingen tried it out, sitting on the slatted seat. “It rocks, it is awesome. It is kind of scary, but it’s perfect.”
When he and the students found it did work, he added, “Now I can say we had fun doing it.”
“Then we were glad to get it out of here, because it took up most of the shop, the lab area,” he said. In the finishing stages, the top of the rocker was sitting up among the roof beams in the lab area.
Swearingen will accompany some of the students who worked on the project to the Feb. 26 unveiling. They have not seen it since it was turned over to Strickland for painting.
They also have not seen the plaque that memorializes the project, containing the names of those who built the chair.
Joining Swearingen on the plaque will be the names of Kenneth Copeland, Johnny Cox, Edward Danztler, Jay Davis, Ronald Futrick, Dakota Groves, Hunter Gunnoe, Katherine Hoitt, Robert Just, Devin Kinsey, Darius Kirkland, Chris Murray, Cody Perritte, Chip Wilson, Hunter Ohmer, Hunter Polk, Fred Chambers, Damient Barnett, Ethan Barrett, Kyle Davis, Lane Lee, Charles Martin, Jailyn Rivers, Jeremiah Daniels, Eric Sammons, Leonoard Scott and Bobby Smith.

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