At West Lyon Community School, ‘shop class’ is now a sport

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

INWOOD, IA (KTIV) - You’ve seen “signing day” before, but probably not one in front of a combine.

The West Lyon Community School District is making the most of its “shop” class, with Senior Darren Meyer “committing” to Van’s Implement. The farm equipment dealer agreed to pay for Meyer’s associate’s degree to become a diesel mechanic at Northwest Iowa Community College.

In turn, Meyer will work at the dealer.

”They talked in advance and Van’s Implement thought it’s a great idea. I think it’s great. You see everyone doing it for sports. You don’t see this very often. So I think it’s really cool,” said Peterson.

The shop at the West Lyon Community School enjoys a wide range of community support. Voters approved a $3 million bond in 2017. Instructors have written grant applications worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and local businesses have donated money and materials to funnel students into the trades.

Of the roughly 280 middle and high school students in West Lyon, 230 of them are enrolled in at least one shop class. That should tell you just how deeply folks care about this place.

“Everything we do here, you know nothing’s too big. You can do anything you want. If there’s something you can think of there’s a way to do it and Mr. Peterson will always find a way to do it for you,” said Shaylyn Van Veldhuizen, a junior at the school.

Mr. Peterson is Shane Peterson, one of two industrial instructors at West Lyon. He’s also become a de facto grant writer, seeking help to fund fabrication tools, a paint and automotive shop, and hundreds of other tools.

“Just being able to have grants and stuff available has been you know (awesome), because in the last year, it’s been $200,000 we’ve been able to put in the program just by grants and that takes some load off the school, and stuff,” said Peterson.

On top of getting students ready for the workplace, there’s also a new competitive, “team” element to shop class. West Lyon created a “SkillsUSA” chapter, which participates in a state competition against other Iowa schools in dozens of events like plumbing and welding.

Peterson said local businesses often donate money or equipment to the high school knowing students will have the opportunity to work for them after they graduate. He’s also proud that some shop classes have equal participation from men and women.