Hayden Kevin Kleckler radiates enthusiasm when he discusses Hayden High School's vocational education facility.
The expanded Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center is slated to be finished this summer. It will include an area for auto bodywork, an area for auto mechanics, a welding room, two classrooms, offices and space for drafting and architecture work.
Kleckler, who will leave his position as athletics director to lead the vocational program, hopes to share his excitement with students.
"My philosophy with high school kids is if you can get them passionate and channel that passion, you can do anything with them," he said. "You could run the world with them."
The center's expansion will add about 8,400 square feet. The current shop is 2,800 square feet, Kleckler said. The expansion, along with the new architecture and drafting element, will push Hayden High School forward as a training facility in vocational technology, he said.
"We're stepping up our game," Kleckler said. "We're taking the farm-boy mechanics we're doing now and making them less grease monkey and more technicians."
Kleckler wants the expansion to open with amenities such as new desks and computers. The district needs about $250,000 to $300,000 more to meet that goal, he said.
That will put the project's cost at about $1.5 million, he said.
He said he wants to draw students from across the valley who are interested in vocational technology. Kleckler wants those students to get a premium vocational education at Hayden so they don't have to leave for technical school and so companies can tap into a local work force.
"We want to be able to educate our own and keep our own, because we live in the most beautiful place in the world," Kleckler said. He also hopes to add evening classes for adults.
The vocational program is offering a summer Vocational Skill Institute. Students who attend the weeklong workshop at Hayden High School will fix up a 1950s Ford truck.
The institute also will offer a weeklong culinary arts program at Steamboat Springs High School and a construction program at Moffat County High School in Craig. Last summer, Hayden's car program was the only one that took off, Kleckler said.
"That's because I like what I do, and I tried to pump them up," he said.
Hayden School District Superintendent Mike Luppes said the district would miss Kleckler in the athletics director slot. Officials are seeking a replacement.
"I'm sure we'll have some growing pains as we make the transition," Luppes said. Kleckler, who has taught at the high school for 15 years, said he would help the new director so students don't feel the impact.
In the meantime, Kleckler will be an asset for the vocational program, Luppes said.
"That's his baby," Luppes said. "He's the one who's grown it to where it is."