It’s 10am on the Global Technology High School campus in Wailuku and sophomores Eli Sokolow and Anthony Romero are connecting metal girders to a motor. It’s part of their project to get an Erector Set model of a parachute drop working in time for First Friday Wailuku. In fact, all the students are working together to create two working moving models of this vintage circus set that includes the parachute drop and a merry-go-round.
“The parachute drop instructions are incredibly hard to understand because this is all from the ‘50s,” says Sokolow as he shows me the instruction manual, which is in superb condition for an antique. The students have additional printouts from additional Internet research they’ve done on the old toy construction sets.
Richard Dan, owner of Kama’aina Loan in Wailuku, has loaned the school the sets and will also be providing space in the display window at 46 N. Market for the students during the Wailuku First Friday town party. The students and their parents will talk about their school and the Erector Set project at the First Friday town party in April. Dan, a collector of vintage Erector Sets, also sells them at his stores.
“The Erector Sets that I loaned them are replicas from the Steeplechase Park in Coney Island,” he says. “I grew up in that area. They closed the park in the ‘60s, but the Parachute Jump ride is still there as a landmark.”
The high school is in its second semester of its inaugural year, and the seven students are thriving in their new surroundings. The group has strong ties to the Wailuku community. In fact, one of their ongoing school projects is keeping the neighboring municipal parking lot clean and rubbish-free.
“I’m following the models of sustainable urban schools that partnership,” says Elaine Blasi, the school’s director. “We have Maui Academy of Performing Arts next door to partner with for drama and theatrical arts. On Lower Main, 808 Fitness partners with us for physical education. Students can order student lunch at Wailuku Coffee Company. There are so many great local businesses here we are already involved with.”