Rutherford Technology High School's special needs unit has made a train line

DETERMINED: These Rutherford Technology High School students from the special needs unit were among those that worked on the project over 18 months. Picture: Simone De Peak.

DETERMINED: These Rutherford Technology High School students from the special needs unit were among those that worked on the project over 18 months. Picture: Simone De Peak.

It’s every train enthusiasts dream.

Two tracks, a platform and a range of delicately painted buildings set against intense landscaping.

Behind the backdrop there's even more tracks.

The project took Rutherford Technology High School’s special needs students 18 months to complete, and it’s left them with an appreciation for trains and a huge range of life skills.

More than 12 year 7 to 12 students spent one day a week working on the project with the help of retired coal miner and engineer Angus Webster and retired signalman Steven Winkler. 

NEW PROJECT: Joshua Sales 14yrs and Caleb Wood 17yrs of Rutherford High School, are some the students involved in making a train line. Picture: Simone De Peak

NEW PROJECT: Joshua Sales 14yrs and Caleb Wood 17yrs of Rutherford High School, are some the students involved in making a train line. Picture: Simone De Peak

They helped them make a smaller track that linked with an underground mine.

Then they encouraged them to expand their vision for the track and taught them how to build all of the elements.

“It was very busy, we had to use some of our spare time to do it – there were lots of things to make, trees, rails, buildings,” Gabriel Cerqueira said.

“The hardest part was doing the grass – you had to make it look as realistic as we could.”

TRAINS: Part of the track. Picture: Simone De Peak

TRAINS: Part of the track. Picture: Simone De Peak

Mr Webster said the student’s dedication to the project impressed him and it gave them a chance to develop new skills and feel confident about their work.

“We sat down with the students and came up with the concept, then I went back and drew it up,” he said. 

“The thing that really thrilled me was the way the young people learnt to work as a team.

TRAINS: Part of the track. Picture: Simone De Peak

TRAINS: Part of the track. Picture: Simone De Peak

“They learnt a lot of future life skills like fine motor skills, woodwork and soldering of wires.

“They were thrilled with what they had achieved.” 

Mr Webster praised Mr Winkler for helping to make the project possible and said he could not have done it without his expertise.

TRAIN TRACKS: Joshua Sales 14yrs and Caleb Wood 17yrs of Rutherford High School, are some the students involved in making a train line. Picture: Simone De Peak

TRAIN TRACKS: Joshua Sales 14yrs and Caleb Wood 17yrs of Rutherford High School, are some the students involved in making a train line. Picture: Simone De Peak

“Eighty-five per cent of it was done by the students and they believed in themselves a lot more after it,” he said. 

Joshua Sales said the group worked hard to make the line gradually rise and painting the buildings was delicate work. 

“You had to have a steady hand when you were gluing the rail lines,” Josh said.

“It’s modeled to look like Maitland.”

The train track has been sold to a train enthusiast who wished to remain anonymous. 

“I’m very proud, I hope they know it was us and we made it well,” Gabriel said.

Teacher Andrew Dinham thanked Mr Webster and Mr Winkler for devoting their time to the students.

He said they always looked forward to spending time on the project. 

“It’s the first time something like this has been done here,” he said.

“The students followed Angus’ lead, he would demonstrate how it had to be done.”

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