Valley Kiwanis visits Career Technical Center

Published 7:00 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

LaFAYETTE — The Kiwanis Club of Valley had its noon-hour meeting Wednesday in the multipurpose room at the Chambers County Career Technical Center.

Members had the opportunity to visit the CTC’s 1,500-square-foot greenhouse and see plants grown by the students, as a plant sale has been taking place this week. People have been flocking to it to purchase hanging baskets and potted plants at very god prices. What was there Monday morning was noticeably depleted by Wednesday. Even so, members were able to pick up some bargains in the form of citronella plants, noted for keeping away mosquitoes on hot, summer days and other plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Inside the multipurpose room, Director Ken Sealy gave an overall review of the CTC and engineering instructor Seth Stehouwer talked about the school’s electric car racing program.

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“The kids did a great job taking care of plants in our greenhouse,” Sealy said. “As you could see, we’ve just about sold out of what we had on Monday.”

The money raised by the plant sale will go to the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter and will help pay for district and state competitions they take part in along with some field trips they will be taking.

In addition to serving as a group meeting place, the multipurpose room doubles as an integrated lab, complete with student work stations and a computer-assisted design (CAD) systems showing the concepts involved in building electric cars.

“It shows how it goes from a drawing to being manufactured,” Stehouwer said as the computer screen displayed images of the lightweight cars the students have made. Members of the club talked to students Jay Robinson and Todd Camp of the Piedmont Motorsports team and Marli Brooks, the business manager. They discussed how the alternative energy unit powers the cars and how it works.

Stehouwer told members of the club that he places high value on creativity. 

“I want them to think on their own,” he said. “If a student does a project exactly the way I told them to and with no variations, they will get a D. To get extra points you have to design and make something on your own. You have to go above and beyond what was assigned to get a good grade.”

Members of the club had the chance to test their skill at electric car racing. A temporary race track was set up on the parking lot outside the multipurpose room, and members of the club took turns manning the controls. 

“We will have a lot of wrecks,” said club member Henry Bledsoe. “We are at a disadvantage. We weren’t raised on video games the way today’s young people are.”

There were spin-outs, cars going over the wall and sometimes going in reverse, but everyone had a good time while gaining an appreciation for what the CTC students have done both statewide and nationally. Thanks to them, Chambers County is a name well-known on the electric car racing circuit.

“You have to keep in mind,” said instructor Tim Blanks, “that there’s 12 or 13 cars on the track when we are doing this in a competition.”

The lightweight chassis cars that can be driven by the students can attain speeds of 50 miles per hour, but that’s not the goal.

“The goal is to see how far you can go, not how fast you can go,” Blanks said.