Hayden High School freshman Lexy Gumm sands an old Jeep during auto body class Tuesday. The school has received a $25,000 grant to offer an auto body class to all students in Routt and Moffat counties.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Hayden High School freshman Lexy Gumm sands an old Jeep during auto body class Tuesday. The school has received a $25,000 grant to offer an auto body class to all students in Routt and Moffat counties.

Grant expands educational opportunities in Hayden

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The $25,000 grant from Shell will be used to refurbish this 1953 Chevrolet pickup truck.

— It might not look like much right now, but a $25,000 grant is going to allow area students to learn what it takes to turn a beat-up 1953 Chevrolet farm truck into a hot rod.

The Hayden School District's Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center was awarded the grant by Shell Oil. Shell spokeswoman Jody Patten said it is the largest grant that Shell awarded this year in Routt and Moffat counties.

"The ability to increase the capacity of an already successful program and to serve more people was really appealing," Patten said.

About 300 students and adults take classes at the Babson-Carpenter center each year, according to its director, Kevin Kleckler. Mechanics, auto body, drafting, welding and cabinet making are taught. Kleckler raised $1.6 million for the building, which opened in 2008.

Although students at Hayden High School have taken on car restoration projects before, the grant money will allow Kleckler to open the opportunity to all students in Routt and Moffat counties at no cost.

"That's huge," Kleckler said.

The class first will meet from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 21 and then once or twice each month throughout the school year. The grant is paying for supplies, the instructor and dinner for the students. Students will need to provide their own transportation to Hayden. Class space is limited, and interested students are asked to call Kleckler at 970-276-3761, ext. 409. No experience in auto body work is necessary.

Kleckler bought the project truck for $2,500 on eBay, and it is sitting outside the Babson-Carpenter center after being picked out of a field in Colorado Springs.

"We're going to strip it down and do the whole thing," Kleckler said.

Depending on how good of a job the students do, Kleckler said the truck when finished will be worth $10,000 to $20,000. It will be sold, and the money will be used to buy more equipment and to expand programs at the Babson-Carpenter center.

Patten said Shell Oil awards the grants in an effort to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math. Babson-Carpenter was a natural fit for the grant, she said.

"This project is an innovative way to engage kids in science and math," Patten said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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