Behold, the jawnament!
Delicate, wooden - and singularly Philly - the holiday handcraft is the latest offering from student entrepreneurs at the Workshop School, a project-based public school whose innovations have won national recognition.
The school's teens are best known for building a fuel-efficient fast car that made its way to the White House. The jawnament may not get a nod from the president, but it's clever enough to be the top seller of Workshop Industries, the after-school club where students create items to sell to the public using the tools at their disposal: laser cutters, 3-D printers, sophisticated computer-assisted design software.
Michael Best, a freshman, lays claim to launching the jawnament.
The Workshop Industry students were kicking around ideas of what kind of ornaments they should make. Snowflakes, check. Stars, absolutely. Reindeer, for sure.
And then, a lightning bolt: How about jawn, that all-purposes Philly colloquialism? As in, "That jawn is heavy?" Or, "I can't find my water jawn?"
"It's a substitute for whatever," said Miracle Townes, a freshman. "If you don't know something, you just say 'jawn.' "
Teacher Todd Menadier thought the jawnament was perfect.
"The kids would always say, 'We need more jawns for the orders' - meaning, we needed more snowflakes or whatever," Menadier said. "I thought it was really fitting."
They settled on the letters J, A, W, and N written graffiti-style and set in an oval shape. Simple, but that jawn is awesome.
Keyshawn Stran, another freshman, was taken by it.
"We thought it was funny and cool," Stran said.
So do customers, apparently. The students priced it to sell - $3 - and have moved at least 100 through events and Web orders. (The proceeds are divided between a school fund and the students themselves.)
In addition to projects for the school day - workshop students have built their own recording studio, energy-efficient lighting systems for a Philadelphia business corridor, indoor gardens, and solar charging stations - they're also peddling other wares.
There are the more traditional ornaments ($5) and lip balm ($2) they created themselves, tinkering with a recipe that Menadier presented them. The students just started selling delicate wooden lighted Christmas houses that Stran designed.
And yes, they get it: Jawnaments may not make sense if you don't speak Philly.
Simon Hauger, a Workshop cofounder and the school's principal, recently talked to his mother about the students' offerings. The work sounded beautiful, she said, but what was this jawn?
She's from Indiana.
"Ah," Hauger's mom said. "I'll take the snowflake."
On Philly Students' Jawnaments
To see the Workshop School students' items for sale, including holiday "jawnaments" ($3 each), go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/workshopschool/sets/72157649303014610/.
Then go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1qlXk8KtF7Xslq64LwmqJ44LND_9enOMFK2HZb3vaOYg/viewform to order online.
Indicate whether you'd like your order mailed or can pick it up at the school on Monday between 3:30 and 6 p.m. Students will send you an e-mail with your total, which you can pay via PayPal, check, or cash.
Contact teacher Todd Menadier with questions or for more information: email@example.com.EndText