Students earn state award for skateboard rack design

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Whitefish Independent High School students Trey Baumgartner-Siers, Nathan Buckley and Tully Zander designed a skateboard rack for a Jobs for Montana Graduates competition. They won third place in the state for their idea. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

When three Whitefish Independent High School students noticed that their school lacked a place to secure skateboards, they knew they could develop a solution.

Students Tully Zander, Nathan Buckley and Trey Baumgartner-Siers used a commercial design for a skateboard rack and modified it so it could be constructed for use at their own school. The idea earned them third place at the recent LEAD Montana conference for Jobs for Montana’s Graduates program.

“We saw a problem,” Zander said. “There’s is not any where for skateboards to be kept safe and out of the weather. This can help the school and the skating community.”

The team estimated that there is about 15 to 30 students at the high school who ride skateboards and the only option for storing those skateboards is in the student’s lockers. It’s a solution that they say doesn’t work because one skateboard can easily fill a locker making it impossible to store books and backpacks in the locker.

Jobs for Montana’s Graduates is a program funded by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry to support students by providing them employability skills, leadership development, social and civic responsibility, and career awareness.

The Whitefish students plans for a skateboard rack was entered in a recent JMG conference competition that asked students to “innovate” by finding a solution to a problem at their school.

The Whitefish team interviewed skateboarders at their school to find out what issues they were facing and how it could be addressed. Then they modified plans to create a skateboard rack that could be used at the school.

“We created a presentation that explained our idea,” Baumgartner-Siers said. “We created a life-size model with paper and a yard stick to display our idea to the judges.”

They were excited to win the competition. And even more excited to find out that their project will result in two skateboard racks for the high school and one for Whitefish Middle School.

Using skills they learned in classes at the school, the team is working to construct the skateboard racks themselves. They’ve created designs using computer-aided drafting and will use a plasma cutter to cut out the metal pieces, which they will then weld together into the finished skateboard racks. They hope to have the racks installed in the spring.

“It will be neat to walk by them even after we graduate and know that we made them,” Buckley said.

“It’s neat that it went above an idea into something that we can make,” Zander added. “It’s great that people [who skateboard] can know that somebody cares about us and the things that we do to have fun.”

This year’s conference included more than 325 attendees from 30 schools from across the state.

Also, during the conference Baumgartner-Siers was announced as one of four students selected to represent Montana at the Jobs for America’s Graduates National Student Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C.

Baumgartner-Siers, who is a senior, said he’s excited for the experience and believes that the leadership experience he’s gained through the JMG program will help him as he applies to the U.S. Naval and Merchant Marine academies.

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