I'm all for utility in shop furniture but also into not missing an opportunity to do something cool that you've never done before.
Pinned rabbeted boxes are super easy, self squaring, and can look sweet if you use a contrasting pin or metal.
Wanna test how nice you can make some half blinds when you want to? already a DT God? assemble them without glue and see how they do!
Already got a box joint jig for 1/2" material? no? cool. whip one out. joint them box..
Its your stand and only a stand, but you're going to be looking at it for the foreseeable future. if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
Personally, I like the variations of "character" that poplar shows. I have some poplar drink coasters that my son turned on the thing we call a lathe, they are a beautiful golden color. I made a picture frame with a poplar "matt", the poplar aged from pale & greenish to a warm yellowish brown. I found a stick of spalted poplar and used it to make keepsake box tops.
Unless I'm planning to accentuate the grain pores for some reason, I would generally choose poplar over red oak for most projects.
Good luck ! I hope you do well on the test .
I used to make crates from scrap, first for 8 tracks, then cassettes and then CDs. Walnut and cherry were favorites . A little glue, some brass escution pins and a quick coat of Watco made a bunch of gifts.