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Chester County Press

UHS students make some Christmas cheer

12/04/2013 02:59PM ● By Acl

Finished duck toys, and some awaiting completion, in Mike Berkeihiser's classroom.

By John Chambless

Staff Writer

The flapping of little duck feet will be part of Christmas morning for families throughout Chester County, thanks to the efforts of students at Unionville High School.

Since early November, students in the technology education classes have been making wooden duck push toys that will be distributed through the Toys for Tots program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Attached to two wooden wheels on the bottom of the duck are rubber feet that slap the floor as a child pushes the toy. It's a classic design that took the place of the wooden airplanes made by the students last year.

“We wanted to have some variety in what we make,” said technolody education instructor Mike Berkeihiser. The students have turned out more than 100 of the toys since beginning in early November.

“Amy Gottsegen is a student in our engineering class, and she drew the duck on the computer,”  Berkeihiser said, “Then we took it to the CNC [computer numerically controlled] router. The guys in the wood shop prepped all the wood, sent it to us, and then we cut big long strips of ducks out of every board.”

The dowels for the handles were purchased, along with the wheels. But everything was sanded, varnished, assembled and painted by students. For the feet, Berkeihiser said, the students cut up tire inner tubes. The whole project is supported by $500 from the PTO, but the experience of taking a design and seeing it through to completion is an invaluable lesson for students. The added benefit is making Christmas a happier time for needy families in the area.

While the ducks are nearing completion,  Berkeihiser said that more toy donations are needed. As a collection point for the Toys for Tots campaign, the high school accepts new, unwrapped gifts that are given to families for the holidays. “Last year, in addition to the toys that we made, I'd say we donated another 200 toys that were dropped off here,” he said. Anyone is welcome to donate -- they do not need to have a student in the high school. There are bins for donations in the school's front lobby. Donations must be made by Dec. 10 so that they can be collected and distributed. 

For more information, visit or call 610-347-1600.