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A Missoula teacher wants to help his students learn hands-on skills they can use for the rest of their lives, and he's doing it one picnic table at a time.

Charles Rinehart teaches building trades and math classes at Hellgate High School.

Students can take three different levels, including the building trades course, and a construction math class that earns them class credit at the University of Montana. The class sells some of the finished capstone building projects, and the proceeds go back into the program.

Class projects include everything from picnic tables to chicken coops to sheds. Rinehart has taught building trades courses at Hellgate for the last three years, and he wants his students to learn more than how to pass a test.

"It's an everyday skill that's not getting passed down anymore, Rinehart said. "I hope my students own houses one day and can fix a gate or build a closet organizer. Maybe build a picnic table."

Rinehart says local businesses help keep the program going by donating lumber, but he still needs to raise money to purchase paint and other building materials.

The class has currently has 20 student-made picnic tables available for purchase at $125 each. Call 406-240-2425 for more information.

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