Good works of Port Angeles High School instructor, students yield $1,000 donation
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Dr. Sam Baker of Port Angeles, a retired orthopedic surgeon, holds a fracture distractor tool while speaking about the device at a recent school board meeting. With Baker are the machine shop students who built the tool, from left, Quade Beck, Zak Alderson and Casey Bailey. Shop instructor Mike Frick is at far right, and Superintendent Jane Pryne is in the background. Port Angeles School District

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — As Port Angeles High School machine shop teacher Mike Frick prepares for retirement, he is leaving on a high note that includes state and international accolades for his students’ achievements.

Frick has led his students to multiple regional, state and national machining awards for years as part of the SkillsUSA career technical education (CTE) competition, and created a program to build surgical instruments — bone distractors — for use in third world nations.

He will accompany a student, Quade Beck, on June 22-28 to the National Skills-USA Conference in Kansas City, Mo., where Beck will represent the state in the national precision machining contest.

With 30 years of teaching behind him, he will officially retire June 30.

At Thursday’s school board meeting, he was honored for his work with a major donation for the program he built.

With the Port Angeles School Board, Frick accepted a $1,000 donation from Dr. Sam Baker and Martha Baker to the Port Angeles High School machine shop on Thursday.

Baker, a local retired orthopedic surgeon, and other orthopedic surgeons use bone distractors in their work in third world countries, train doctors on how to use the tool and then provide the device to the local doctors for future use.

It is used when sections of bone are missing due to injury, to hold it in place to heal, or to lengthen a bone shortened by disease, old injury, or by birth defect.

A bone distractor is attached to bone ends after an injury and left in place as the bone heals, so that it continually hold the ends in place to allow new bone to grow in between.

Baker contacted Frick several years ago to let him know about the need for the steel distractors, which are simple enough for a student machinist to produce.

Distractors purchased from surgical instrument companies cost around $5,000, but the high school machine shop has been able to produce them for about $100 each, Baker said.

Baker’s donation is to help the machine shop with materials, he said.

The altered design created by Frick and the high school machine shop students is receiving a lot of praise from doctors using it, Baker told the school board.

Frick and his students receive more requests for distractors than they can produce, and they have shipped an average of four a year to third world countries.

In 2012-13, students in the machining classes produced eight, all of which were eagerly accepted by doctors in those countries, Baker said.

“We can use all you can make,” he said.


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: May 12. 2014 6:37PM
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