Grand Crew explores careers with wooden boat school
Middle Park High’s Grand Crew Program is nearing the end of its first year, and while the students have worked on multiple projects and acquired a host of new skills over the past school year, their recent work with Ken Fucik’s wooden boat school was one of their more unique endeavors.
In late February, Fucik, who recently established the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Wooden Boat School, began work on a project with the Grand Crew students from Middle Park High School. The project focused on the restoration of a 1920s era metal-hulled wooden rowboat that was donated to the boat school.
According to Grand Crew Program Coordinator Maggie Michalowski the project had several intentions including connecting the students with community members that have a particular passion to providing role models and references for the students. Additionally the project was meant to expose the students to potential career options for their future lives.
“Rather than just telling students that boat or classic car restoration is a field in need of workers, we’re exposing them to what it is like to do that work,” Michalowski explained. “They might find it is more interesting and engaging than they would have thought, or that they especially enjoy problem-solving around the challenges that restoration presents.”
The student’s boat restoration work with Fucik involved both metal and wood restoration. The students milled all the wood needed for the project and sanded, varnished and painted the body of the restored boat. The metal hull was repaired using epoxy and additional metal work was conducted. According to Fucik the Grand Crew’s work on the project, which lasted a little over three weeks, completed roughly 60 percent of the work needed for full restoration.
Michalowski stated the project was an opportunity for the crew to experience a field of work they might not have previously considered as a viable career path.
“Many enjoy working with wood or metals, but don’t realize the kind of careers they can turn their hobby into,” she stated. “I also like that the students could make something that would represent our community and culture; as well as see a beautiful finished product.”
For Fucik, a Grand Lake resident, the project was deeply rewarding and was an opportunity to share his love of boat restoration with the younger generation.
“I loved it,” Fucik said of his time working with the students. “We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed getting to know them and their varied interests. I am looking forward to following them in their careers and where they go.”
Fucik said he hopes to finish the restoration work on the boat this summer with a few of the crew students who express a continued interest in the restoration work. He is currently working with Michalowski and others to develop an internship program for several of the Grand Crew students.
Those internship programs are part of Grand Crew’s broader mission of education and student development. Michalowski noted that the student’s final projects for the year include internships with over half a dozen separate businesses or nonprofits throughout Grand County including Grand Animal Hospital, Therapeutic Riding Center, Borda Contractors and Devil’s Thumb Ranch among others.
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