Warriors At Work In The Real World

Credit: Chuck Pinell
Leather made from stingrays.

Lucie Taylor

Noelle Stith is a WAHS senior who is interning at the Curatorial Department of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello this year.

“It’s a cool opportunity to get a backstage look at Monticello,” she said. Every Sunday she works in the house keeping records of artifacts and their condition, as well as packing them to be sent off to other exhibitions. She is currently the only high school intern at Monticello, and she found this opportunity through a woman she rides with who works in the department.

Noelle says it’s a really fun job and that she genuinely looks forward to it each weekend. One drawback is that visitors are always watching while she works with the artifacts and she was terrified when they once saw her nearly break something.

Although she is not likely to pursue a career related to curating, Noelle said that she is interested in majoring in history, and this internship is fascinating for a humanities lover like herself.

Ella Atwell is another Senior intern, who has been working with Chuck Pinell at Custom Leather for over a year. Mr. Pinell was a frequent customer of her family’s store, which is how she was first introduced to him.

Custom Leather is a well-established leather shop located in Charlottesville and is best known for their intricate, personalized chaps. Chuck Pinell has even made riding boots for Jackie Kennedy and the U.S. Olympic team. At the shop they work with leathers made from all kinds of animals, not just cows. Some of the more exotic are ostriches, stingrays, and alligators.

“It’s good world experience,” Ella said, “having to deal directly with people.” She loves working there because, as she said, “When else would I get lizard-skin shoes?”

She works at Custom Leather twice a week during the two periods of the school day reserved for her internship and worked there over the summer. Ella said that she doesn’t see herself continuing to work with leather after high-school, but she loves the internship.

She said she would love to find a jewelry-making internship next as an area in which she would pursue a career.

To see more of Chuck Pinell’s work, visit http://www.pinnellcustomleather.com/.