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January 27. 2013 9:34PM

Salem teen helps police look even more professional

Michael Poulin, a sophomore at Salem High School, poses with the lectern he built for the Salem Police Department. Poulin began working on the project three days into the current school year, and it was completed just last week. (COURTESY)

SALEM - Decades old and made of crumbling particleboard, the lectern inside the Salem Police Department had definitely seen better days.

Used by the local police force during promotional ceremonies, news conferences and other community events, officers have long known it was time for a replacement but other needs were more immediate.

"It certainly wasn't impressing anyone," Capt. James Chase said of the dilapidated lectern.

So when the new school year began, local police approached students in Jay Hudson's Woodworking Technology II class in hopes someone might be willing to lend a crafty hand. Sophomore Michael Poulin didn't hesitate to volunteer.

"I can do that," he told the police.

Just three days into the school year, Poulin had already sketched out some ideas, which he shared with Detective Robert Genest and Officer Chad Clark.

The two school resource officers liked what they saw, and Poulin got right to work, spending about an hour and a half each school day working on the project. Poulin completed the lectern earlier this month.

"It's been a lot of fun," he said. "Mr. Hudson helped me out a lot because I just wanted everything to be absolutely perfect."

Working with wood has since become one of Poulin's favorite pastimes, he said, and projects like the lectern have proven both challenging and worthwhile.

"You get to be really creative - you have to plan things out as part of the process and make sure everything fits together," Poulin said.

The finished lectern, which police are now outfitting with their official logo, will be an important part of local police proceedings for years to come, Chase said.

"I couldn't believe it when I first got a good look at it. This podium looks like it was made by a professional," he said. "We'll definitely put it to good use. All of our presentations will be made all the better."

Members of the Salem Police Department plan to honor Poulin with some special surprises this May, when the department hosts its annual awards ceremony.

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