Science Hill student restores historic marker


Science Hill senior Gavin Chaffin (right) said he’s learned a lot of valuable lessons from Brent Sluder (left), an instructor in the College, Career and Technology Center at Science Hill. PHOTO BY DAVE ONGIE

By Dave Ongie

With all the tools available to him in Brent Sluder’s welding class, Science Hill senior Gavin Chaffin was able to turn back the clock.

Chaffin recently completed a historic preservation project that earned him an award from the State of Franklin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The organization came to Sluder with a broken sign that was discovered under some rocks along a road in Jonesborough. The sign, which was erected during the 1930s by the local chapter of the DAR to mark an immigrant trail, was in a state of disrepair when it arrived at Science Hill’s College, Career and Technical Education building.

Before restoration

Before restoration

Not only was the writing faded and the metal rusted, a corner of the sign was missing.

“We usually try to do community-based projects to repair things,” Sluder said. “It gives (the students) a chance to work on something, and in turn, (community organizations) get something out of it, too, and usually the cost is minimal.”

Sluder selected Chaffin to do the project. Chaffin is planning to head to ETSU in the fall to study construction engineering, and has plenty of experience in welding.

“I chose him because I know he can do quality stuff, and I trusted him with the project,” Sluder said.

After surveying the damage, Chaffin got down to business.

“We had to sandblast it, and then we took a nickel rod – a stick rod – and cleaned off the shield,” Chaffin said.

In order to replace the missing piece, Chaffin had to get a new piece of metal to mimic the missing side and weld the new metal to the existing metal. When Chaffin and Sluder handed the finished product over to representatives from the DAR, the response was overwhelming.



“That was kind of a proud moment for myself, knowing it meant so much to them,” Chaffin said, who was presented an award for his work.

While Chaffin was able to erase the effects of time on the sign, he can no longer ignore how quickly time is marching on. A personal milestone – graduation – is on the horizon, and it is approaching much quicker now that he’s reached the final spring break of his high school career.

As he pursues an engineering degree, Chaffin says his time in Science Hill’s CCTE building had provided him with a firm foundation.

“This program has helped me with welding and auto, and it has also helped me in my life,” he said. “I feel CCTE programs are good ways to strengthen and make yourself well-rounded.”


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