Milaca students put old objects to new uses to sell at silent auction

An old piano in the process of being upcycled into a desk by a student in Ashley Nelson’s first semester housing and interior design class. Photo by Austin Gerth, Union-Times
An old piano in the process of being upcycled into a desk by a student in Ashley Nelson’s first semester housing and interior design class. Photo by Austin Gerth, Union-Times

Milaca – Students in two classes at Milaca High School are getting hands-on experience in repurposing objects and marketing.
Family and consumer sciences teacher Ashley Nelson and business teacher Jennifer Taylor are having students in one of their classes complete half of a project to make use of unwanted items and find new homes for them.
Students in Nelson’s first semester housing and interior design class took unwanted items sourced from around the school and redesigned and recycled them as new uses.
This process of transforming an object that has outlasted its original use into something else fit for another purpose is known as upcycling. For example, one of Nelson’s students gutted an old cathode ray television and turned it into a cat bed.

Items recycled and re-designed by students in Ashley Nelson’s housing and interior design class on display in the Milaca High School media center. Photo by Austin Gerth, Union-Times
Items recycled and re-designed by students in Ashley Nelson’s housing and interior design class on display in the Milaca High School media center. Photo by Austin Gerth, Union-Times

“It’s very popular right now with the advent of (social media idea-sharing site) Pinterest,” Nelson said of upcycling.
The project gave students the opportunity to exercise creativity as well as use what they’re learning from Nelson. One of the biggest projects undertaken by Nelson’s students was the transformation of an old piano that was floating around the school’s storage spaces into a desk.
“I didn’t really tell them what they had to make,” Nelson said.
Students in Taylor’s marketing class this semester are now picking up the baton for a project of their own: They will be organizing and promoting a silent auction to sell most of the items Nelson’s students upcycled last semester.
In the process, Taylor’s students will be able to test out the marketing principles they are learning.
“We’re talking about the marketing mix – product, place, price and promotion,” Taylor said.
She continued: “This is what marketing people do. They get to try it for real.”
This is the first time a project like this has been undertaken at the school. Nelson’s students were the ones who decided it would be a good idea to sell what they made, which led to the collaboration with Taylor and her class.
If the silent auction is a success, they may try to go bigger and bolder with the project in the future.
“If it would happen in the future, it would be awesome to make it more online and in the community,” Taylor said.
The proceeds from the silent auction, which is still in its planning stages, will benefit groups and organizations at Milaca schools. The auction is not open to the public this year.