Vo-tech students back to class in Hayden
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center instructor Kevin Kleckler was listening to one of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ press conferences in April when he heard a question asked about whether vocational classes were being allowed to resume.
Polis answered they were — as long as classes kept to a minimum number of students with social distancing practices in place, Kleckler said.
The next day, Kleckler put together a plan to resume his welding certification and automotive mechanic classes at the vo-tech classes in Hayden. He received the go ahead from the Hayden School District, and by the following Monday, Kleckler welcomed about 80 students back to class.
Kleckler modified the normal schedule, so that only five students at a time come to each class. Normally, they would meet for one hour four days a week. Now, they are meeting for a two-hour class once a week.
Kleckler said he had been holding virtual classes with his students, which usually involved a video of himself giving instruction on a welding or automotive repair technique, followed by a series of quiz questions.
The lessons were short and an attempt to keep his students engaged — but when welding and working on cars, Kleckler said, there’s no substitute for hands-on learning.
Teaching vocational education in Hayden for nearly 30 years, Kleckler said it’s been wonderful to get his students back in person.
“They were happy to get away from their parents for a couple hours, and their parents were happy to get rid of them for a couple hours,” Kleckler joked.
Even at 6 feet apart and adhering to other restrictions, he said his students were happy to have the chance for some social connection. It gives them “something to smile about again,” he said.
The class had several projects to finish up to be auctioned off as part of its regular fundraising effort to support programming at the Babson-Carpenter Center.
In addition to their tradition of making flower barrels, the students recently finished fixing a 2008 Ford Expedition, which was totaled after hitting an antelope at 65 mph.
The vehicle was donated to the school by Routt County.
Other local professionals from Moffat and Routt counties pitched in to get the vehicle into good condition.
“It was a fantastic project that includes entities from business and government up and down the Yampa Valley,” he said.
They are now putting the car up for bid, starting at $3,000.
The bidding ends at 11 a.m. May 14.
For more information about the vehicle, call Klecker at 970-276-3761, ext. 3009. Bids can be emailed to email@example.com or dropped off in a sealed envelope at the Babson-Carpenter Center.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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