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DeKalb’s Building Trades Class to Move Next Year to Impact Institute

posted May 1, 2014, 7:26 AM by webmaster dhs   [ updated May 1, 2014, 7:26 AM ]

Reaching an era’s end...  

Members of the DeKalb High School building trades class work at 1504 Duesenberg Drive in Auburn. From left are Nik Arnold, Skylar Fraley, Harley Langford and Scott Derrow.  

WATERLOO — DeKalb High School building trades instructor Tim Wolfe said he could “write a book” about his experience teaching the construction trade to students over the past 23 years.

“I’ve had over 500 students go through the program,” Wolfe said. “A lot of times my goal is to get (students) excited about something … I’ve always enjoyed teaching kids how to do stuff.”

This year’s building trades class marks the final chapter in Wolfe’s career as he plans to hang up his tool belt and retire. It also is the end of an era for the program at DeKalb High School. After 41 years at the school, the program will be offered through the Impact Institute in Kendallville, formerly known as the Four County Vocational Cooperative.

The building trades class is offered to juniors and seniors and provides an opportunity to learn a construction trade while working at a construction site.

The first class began in the 1972-73 school year with Pete Potts as instructor. Potts served for 13 years before retiring. Walt Roberts lead the program for the next six years before returning to the classroom as a science teacher at DeKalb Middle School. Wolfe was hired as the instructor in August 1992.

This year’s home is located at 1504 Duesenberg Drive and will be for sale to the public. The 1,560-square-foot ranch has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The kitchen is fitted with custom cabinetry. The home has hardwood and ceramic-tile floors and two-car garage. An open house will take place May 18 from 1-4 p.m.

The annual building trades banquet will take place May 6 and tickets are available through April 30 for $10. Contact Sandy McAfee at the DeKalb Central school district’s central office, 920-1011, for reservations.

Wolfe believes moving the program to the Impact Institute is a good thing. Students will be able to earn multiple certifications and tools and equipment are modern and updated, Wolfe said.

Wolfe said the program has seen significant changes since he first came on board. Now students undergo more testing and are able to obtain dual credit and other trade certificates, Wolfe said.

Reflecting on the many construction projects undertaken by his classes, Wolfe said one of the most notable involved building a house with a loft and beam.

“I was petrified that someone was going to fall,” he said with a smile.

As well as home-building projects, over the years students have worked on the school district’s soccer press box, built benches in the baseball dugouts, participated in Habitat for Humanity projects, helped on a park project in Butler, worked on a pavilion in Kendallville and participated in a home makeover for a woman who was losing her eyesight.

“We’ve tried to do a lot of community service,” Wolfe said.

As he anticipates his retirement, Wolfe said he will miss the students.

“I’ve had some awesome kids every year,” Wolfe said. “I’d love to go back and see what they’re all doing. I know there are a lot of success stories. Some have gone to college. Some have started their own businesses.”

Article from The Star - Written by Kathryn Bassett