Principals at Bell and Trinity high schools were crowned as kings Friday, courtesy of creative students at the Buinger CTE Academy.
Students in the engineering and animation programs at the Academy designed and created chess sets to test their skills and represent the rivalry between the two high schools in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford district.
The kings on the chess sets feature detailed models of the faces of Bell Principal Jim Bannister and Trinity Principal Mike Harris.
The chess sets were unveiled Friday at the district’s Gene A. Buinger Career & Technical Education Academy.
“I had absolutely no clue what was coming,” Harris said. “... It’s really awesome to see how many students were involved in making the project, and the different classes, different departments, different areas all coming together. It’s a beautiful reflection of the whole district.”
Bannister was unexpectedly called out of town and could not attend the unveiling. Ray Fuller, an associate principal at Bell, stood in on his behalf.
Academy assistant principal Debra Harvey said she used a Smart phone app to capture images of the principal’s heads. Harvey only told them it was for a project students were working on. The images were then transferred to 3-D modeling software that was used to create the chess pieces.
Students worked nearly six months to put it all together. Most of the work on the project took place after school, on their own time.
“A lot of hours went into it,” said Ken Davis, an engineering teacher.
Students from teacher Matt Brooks’ animation and video game design class and teacher Evan Hoffman’s digital art and animation class also worked on the project.
‘Big ball of clown hair’
Students created the project using a 3-D printer, a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine, 3-D computer software and other high tech equipment. The chess sets will be displayed at the libraries of each high school and at the Academy.
Each set features a steel board and red and blue chess pieces, representing the colors of Trinity and Bell, respectively. School symbolism carries through the chess pieces as well.
A blue harp, complete with strings, represents the music program at L.D. Bell. A red football recognizes Trinity’s athletic achievements.
One of the chess pieces has letters DHT at the top to represent the phrase “Debra Harvey Thing,” said Harvey. When hearing about something new or unusual the principals often ask, “Is this a Debra Harvey thing?”
She chose to not have her likeness on the chess piece.
“I didn’t want my face to compete with theirs,” Harvey joked.
While working on the project, students learned that engineering and design involves a lot of trial and error.
“The first time we tried to cut out the board, it cut out most of it,” said Nick Hackney, a sophomore. “I think we got to one of the last rows of the squares, and the machine just quit. And we didn’t know what was wrong at first. But when we reviewed the drawing, there was a gap between two of the lines in the drawing that was maybe a ten-thousandth of an inch off. “
The PVC figures didn’t always turn out right the first time, either.
“One of them looked like a big ball of clown hair that you’d buy at a party shop,” said Hackney.
‘Ready for anything’
Lettering on the metal board — made of 16-gauge steel — proved to be tricky, as well. Each side of the board features either the school name or the mascot name. The spacing and dimensions had to be just right.
“We had to figure out how to get the letters on the different sides of the board,” said Madison Moreno, a junior. “It was a lot of trial and error and finding out what works best for the CNC machine.”
The legs on the metal board were also a challenge.
“We had to bend the legs just right to get it to stand up,” said Tyler Sulecki, a junior, who also helped to clean up the metal board, apply a coating and get the finish looking just right.
Sophomore Cierra Coleman said she was able to figure out how to print multiple figures at one time.
“Going one-by-one was taking forever,” said Moreno. “And she figured out how to do multiple ones, so we could get a lot done at once.”
All of the students’ hard work will transfer well into any job setting, Harvey said.
“These kids are ready for anything,” she said.
High school students from across the district can spend part or most of their school day at the Academy, as they prepare for a career or college.