Sedro-Woolley High School teams with Harley-Davidson for international competition
SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Students in Sedro-Woolley High School’s automotive and welding classes could hear their next project before they could see it.
On Tuesday morning, three Harley-Davidson motorcycles — including a 2018 Fat Bob 114 FXFBS — came rumbling up Third Street to the school’s Career and Technical Education building.
Over the next few months, the students will become familiar with the Fat Bob motorcycle as they take it apart, customize it and put it back together — all while ensuring it remains street legal.
“It’s gonna be the biggest, baddest motor that Harley makes,” said Ash Friedrichs, a motorcycle technician with North Cascades Harley-Davidson in Burlington. “We can show them that Harley is cool.”
The motorcycle shop is partnering with the school for Harley-Davidson’s annual “Battle of the Kings” customization contest.
This year, the competition requires participating shops to partner with local school programs.
“It’s part of Harley’s campaign to get more involved in the community,” Friedrichs said.
North Cascades Harley-Davidson is the only shop in the state to be participating in the competition, Friedrichs said, while Sedro-Woolley High School is the only high school in the area to have an auto shop program.
“It’s a really good opportunity,” said Jerry Grisham, the school’s assistant principal and director of career and technical education. “One thing it’s going to allow us to do is expand our auto program.”
Including the welding and automotive classes, the school has 17 career and technical education programs, Grisham said. He would like to see each have a partnership like the one being forged with North Cascades Harley-Davidson.
“I hope they make the connection between what they’re being taught in the classroom and that it actually has a real-world application,” he said.
Between the high school’s automotive and welding classes and the Northwest Career and Technical Academy’s automotive services program — which serves students in Skagit and Whatcom counties — about 200 students will have the opportunity to work on the motorcycle, Grisham said.
“It’s becoming more of a Skagit Valley bike then a Sedro-Woolley bike,” Friedrichs said.
For Sedro-Woolley High School Principal Kerri Carlton, the contest holds special meaning. Her late father was a Harley-Davidson fan, she said, and she grew up around the iconic American brand.
“The louder and more (power) it had, the better he would like it,” Carlton said. “He would be just thrilled to know the students I work with every day are making a Harley.”
Her father was proud of her for following a career that was her passion, she said, and she hopes this project will inspire that same feeling in some of the students.
“If they work hard, they can be in a career that fills their passion,” she said.
David West may be one of those students.
After one class with Friedrichs and the bike, West said his mind was already racing with ideas, including where to put a customized Sedro-Woolley “Cubs” logo on the bike.
The 16-year-old high school junior said he was already considering a career in auto mechanics, but after Wednesday’s class he’s also thinking about being a motorcycle technician.
“This may decide my career,” he said.
Friedrichs, a Burlington-Edison High School graduate, said having a program such as this when he was in high school would have had a huge impact on his life.
At the time, he said the school had an automotive program, but it was not nearly as hands-on and in-depth as this one.
“These kids get 10 times the opportunity I ever got when I was in school,” he said.
Most of the work on the motorcycle will be done at North Cascades Harley-Davidson, with the technicians opening the shop a few hours a week for the students to drop in and work with them, Friedrichs said.
The team will have until Feb. 1 to plan and rebuild the motorcycle, at which point it will be entered in the competition where it will be judged by Harley-Davidson experts and entered in the “People’s Choice” category.
Win or lose, Grisham said, the school plans to celebrate the motorcycle’s completion with a school assembly.