Junior high students build with Wrenches to Wheels
By PAMELA GRANT
Junior high students had the opportunity to build their very own bicycles.
Thursday morning, students were invited to meet at Copperas Cove High School to meet with industry partners from around the city to take part in Texas Workforce Solutions’ new Wrenches to Wheels program.
The students were paired with a mentor business partner who had volunteered for the event. Dozens of employees from local businesses volunteered for the event including employees from Domino’s, Walmart, Ashley Furniture, H-E-B, and more.
Students and their mentors grabbed their boxed bike and a tool kit, read the instructions and built their bike, with many of them building a bike for the first time. At the end of it, they got to take both the bike and the tools home with them.
To qualify for the program, the junior high students must have been enrolled in either sixth or seventh grade, have no more than three discipline referrals, not have an excessive amount of tardies or absences, and must participate in a Federal Assistance Program.
Charley Ayres, director of industry and education partnerships for Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, said that the program is geared towards helping prepare the students for their future. Wrenches to Wheels teaches the students, with guidance, the basic mechanical skills to build the bike, patience and perseverance, following instructions, teamwork, and more.
“We came up with the idea of allowing the students to work on their problem-solving skills and their critical thinking skills, so we thought it would be good to provide the young students with bikes but allow them to build their own bike with the help of a mentor,” said Ayres. “And the icing on the cake is that they get to take that bike home with them. It’s their bike.”
He said that it’s a little bit “old-school” in that it teaches them about how to use wrenches and other tools. He said that most of the students are likely better with technology than many adults, but working with tools is something that is often overlooked.
“We’re trying to give them the opportunity to have hands on experience,” said Ayres. “It’s just a good activity and it’s been very well accepted.”
Ayres was excited that so many businesses chose to get involved. He said that it helps the students to make connections and learn more about local businesses.
“I wanted to have the opportunity to help someone younger build their own bike,” said James Thompson Jr., Walmart ACC Coach. Thompson Jr. admitted that Thursday was his first time building a bike as well. “This was fun. I enjoyed it and made a new friend too.”
Graycen Serfass (12) said that he enjoyed getting to build his own bike with Thompson Jr. He was grateful for Thompson Jr.’s help saying that it would have been a lot more difficult to figure out without him, but he did add that it was easier than he thought it was going to be. Serfass said that he loves taking things apart and putting them back together, and he thought getting to put his own bike together was a lot of fun.
“I’m always down to help when I can,” said Tye Johnson, in charge of assembly and delivery for Ashley Furniture. He said that he and his partner had to do a bit of troubleshooting when they accidentally put their pedals on backwards.
They quickly figured things out and built a nice bike. He said that he really likes the idea of helping the students build bikes.
“They can get out of the house, and off the cellphone for a little while.”
Amiyah Guillory (12). said that her old bike was stolen, so getting to make and keep a new one was especially exciting.
“It feels really good,” said Guillory. “It was difficult. It was stressful but fun building it because I built it myself.”