Local High School Students Learn Technical Skills While Having Fun During Napavine Go-Kart Class


A group of Lewis County high school students gathered at the Napavine track on Thursday to show off the go-karts they spent over two weeks constructing. Over the course of about an hour, the students drove their go-karts at varying speeds and distances.

Some go-karts were able to navigate the track several times while others survived one or two laps.

According to David Rutherford, the career and technical education coordinator at Napavine Junior/Senior High School, the students were divided into teams of three to construct their vehicles.

“Yesterday, we tried it around the parking lot and there was a lot of trial and error,” Rutherford said.

Students from different schools throughout Lewis County spent 17 days working on their teams’ go-karts, dedicating six hours each day to learning new skills and applying them to their creations.

One of the most notable skills the students learned was welding. According to Rutherford, almost none of the students had welding experience.

“All the welds on (the go-karts) were done by them,” Rutherford said. “A couple of them had a little experience with welding, but not much.”

The engines used for the go-karts were replacements for pressure washers. Rutherford said the engines and many of the tools the teams used came from Harbor Freight in Chehalis, a business he said often provides gift cards to schools to buy equipment.

The participating students seemed to enjoy their experience, and not just the part where they got to ride their go-karts.

“I always loved to build things and building a go-kart sounded fun because I don’t have my learner’s permit yet,” said Savanah Johnson, 15, of Napavine High School.

Johnson said her favorite part of the experience was working on the engine, though there were times when the project was difficult.

“I thought (the engine) was possessed by a demon,” Johnson said. “But it was fun.”

Another Napavine High School student, Jeffrey Anderson, 14, said his favorite part of the class was “probably working as a team and figuring stuff out,” adding he had a lot of fun testing the go-kart out the previous couple of days.

Anderson said working in teams taught him a lot about teamwork and communication skills. Despite having to learn to communicate with one another, the students had a lot of fun working together.

“My team was really great and I had a lot of fun working on this,” Anderson said.