Hayden High School senior Oscar Rodriguez uses a grinder on a piece of steel that will be used for a Denver Broncos logo Tuesday at the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Hayden High School senior Oscar Rodriguez uses a grinder on a piece of steel that will be used for a Denver Broncos logo Tuesday at the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center.

Hayden welding students design steel pieces depicting school mascots

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Hayden High School junior Chris Zirkle works on the steel Denver Broncos logo.

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Students are finishing up a mascot for the Steamboat Springs High School Sailors.

— Kevin Kleckler, director of the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center, hopes a project some of his welding students are working on will promote goodwill among the area school districts.

Hayden School District students participating in the welding program at the vocational education facility are designing and creating steel pieces, made from scrap metal, that depict the mascots of the Steamboat Springs, South Routt and Moffat County school districts.

Senior Oscar Rodriguez and junior Chris Zirkle completed Moffat County’s bulldog mascot last week. They had planned to donate the mascot to the school’s student leadership.

A student group in the welding class recently completed the Soroco ram. Another group is nearly finished with the Steamboat Springs sailor.

Rodriguez and Zirkle, having finished the bulldog, began a new project last week. On Tuesday morning, they were piecing together steel that eventually would depict the Denver Broncos logo.

When Rodriguez and Zirkle finish the Bronco in the next few weeks, it will be about 5 feet long and 3 feet tall. They’ll eventually present it to the Broncos through a contact Kleckler has with the team.

Rodriguez joked that the Broncos could hang it in the team locker room — or the cheerleaders’ locker room.

Rodriguez said he and Zirkle built a trailer in the welding program last year.

“This year, we wanted to do something more artistic and fun,” he said.

After making the bulldog, Zirkle said they wanted to do something bigger.

“The first one was kind of hard because we didn’t know what we were doing,” Zirkle said.

Rodriguez interjected.

“It’s not hard once you get in the groove,” he said. “Kleckler didn’t think we’d get done with the first one until Christmas. We got done before Thanksgiving.”

Kleckler said Rodriguez and Zirkle took a suggestion from him and ran with it. He said it has stretched their creative juices.

The idea was to promote sportsmanship among the schools Hayden competes with. But it’s also an expression of tradesmanship, Kleckler said.

“It says this is who we are, and this is what we do,” he said.

The $1.6 million vocational education facility opened its doors early in the 2008-09 school year. The more than 11,000-square-foot building includes an auto shop that can hold as many as 24 cars — 18 in an auto mechanics bay and six in the bodywork shop. There’s also the welding area, classrooms and offices.

Kleckler said the facility is about $135,000 from being paid off. The district paid the loan, so Kleckler continues to raise money to pay it back.

District Finance Director Jnl Linsacum said the district contributed about $230,000 toward the project. The rest was paid through donations and grant funding.

Linsacum said Babson-Car­penter was intended to be a revenue generator for the district. So far, she said, it has generated $37,500 for Hayden, most of which came from professional certification classes Kleckler teaches in the evenings.

The facility is providing instruction for more than 100 people, including about 80 students from the high school, Kleckler said.

Several nights a week, he teaches four-hour classes to adults in welding, auto body collision, and refinishing and automotive mechanics. Kleckler has offered professional certification courses and hopes to expand the program offerings to include architecture and drafting.

A portion of the class fees pay for supplies and instruction and another portion goes to the district.

Kleckler said he’s also working with the Colorado Workforce centers in Steamboat and Craig to help promote the courses available at Babson-Carpenter.

Walking through the auto mechanics bay Tuesday, Kleckler pointed to a 1976 Granny Smith apple green Chevrolet pickup. He said the truck soon would be placed on the side of U.S. Highway 40 with a “For Sale” sign in the window — proceeds that go back to the facility. Babson-Carpenter is also a licensed trailer manufacturer, Kleckler said. Again, the profits support programs.

Kleckler said his phone rings every day with people interested in taking courses at Babson-Carpenter, which he hoped would happen.

“This was my dream, for the area to have a place for kids and adults to go, for a sustainable work force for the community,” Kleckler said.

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