Three new custom-built bunny hutches are being made for the Weyburn Therapeutic Animal Park by the Grade 11 students in Mr. Cody Paterson's Woodworking class at Weyburn Comprehensive School. 

Park Board President Kirsty Frayne said individual homes for the bunnies would make it easier for people to see them up close, rather than using just one big cage.

"So we started thinking about how we wanted it just to last a long time and so we just started brainstorming, and we wondered if the high school would be interested in making us one, so we just gave them a call and yeah, they were into it," she shared.

"We had initially just thought [of having them build] two, but then we had reached out to Westrum Lumber about pricing and they offered to pay for an extra one to be built, so they paid for our supplies and Cody got it whipped up."

The class was given detailed specs on size and general design, but they were able to get a little more creative with the project, which includes a second upper level, complete with ramps for the bunnies to climb up to them.

"I just gave them a couple of ideas and they ran with it," she noted. "Also they'll be able to go back and actually see it in use on a daily basis." 

"We kept most of the design that they wanted but changed a little bit to suit the needs I guess and everything kind of based on the size of the rabbits and roughly what size they wanted and everything," said Grayson, one of the students in the class. 

Mr. Paterson took the opportunity to have the students figure out how to work without a circular saw, so they could gain the experience of not only using the mitre saw but to use that to notch the connections rather than just using nails. Since the class decided to use treated wood, the hutches will surely last many years, but treated wood could have also set off the safety system in the circular saw. 

This way, the students could learn more variety of ways to get the job done.

"So kind of related to real life industry, you know, on a construction site where you don't have maybe a big fancy table saw in a shop setting and you're kind of forced to use those tools," he explained.

The job began with a detailed plan, followed by an extensive materials list. Braxton came up with the two-story idea with the ramp. This also gave them the chance to repurpose some leftover pieces of wood cuttings. 

"We were trying to be as efficient as possible to make the most out of each board and each piece of plywood," shared Jacob.

The second story did present a challenge, as they'll have to figure out how to make a door on the second story so the droppings can be cleaned out regularly.

The project should be complete by early June, and in addition to their usual theory and framework studies, the students are learning about budgeting, planning, creative problem-solving, and even roof-building - something that is normally covered in Grade 12. Typically, Grade 11 students learn to do the framing and vapor-barriers, while the Grade 12s cover the roofing and siding, of sheds they build for learning, which are sold off only to cover costs.

Braxton said he doesn't plan to go into the carpentry trade, but, "This is kind of like in general, just learning to do stuff in my backyard and stuff. Say I gotta fix the fence or whatever."

Paterson pointed out that since they are using treated wood, it is likely the students will be able to take their children one day to the animal park and see the bunnies in the hutches they built. 

"It's not just build something and take it apart, it's a product that's going out of the community, and I think that they recognize that, and there's pride behind that and hopefully they're going to go check it out after and take their families there," he shared.

"I think there's something that when you build something for the community, there's a pride associated with it."

Paterson added, "So the other students in their classes are building projects that they're taking home and showing their families. But even though they're not taking something home, I think that they're taking those skills and translating them into real life experience and they can feel good about giving back to the community. At least I do. I feel good about them doing this."