From a pumpkin decorated as a cupcake to one with hungry, razor sharp teeth, Warrick students brought their A-game again this year for Cron's Body Shop's 6th Annual Pumpkin Contest.
This year, a group of Boonville High School students took the cake, winning a $500 donation from Tim Cron, who owns Cron's Body Shop in Boonville. Their masterpiece: a scary, welding perfection of a skeleton bat creature with glowing red eyes and his ravenous, hellhound, all centered around a terrifying pumpkin.
"They [kind of] came up with Hellhound for the pooch because it sounded meaner than Devil Dog -- [it kind of] sounded like a Little Debbie snack," said Boonville High School teacher Jeff Kranning. "It fit the look of the demon they built next to it. So, I guess it could also be called Demon's Dog."
Abbie Redmon, director of Primary Curriculum Instruction K-5 for the Warrick County School Corp., said when Cron calls the curriculum department ever year to ask if he can do the contest again, they are thrilled.
"He always states, 'The challenge to the students is to work as a team to collaborate and communicate, create a design and execute that design, all of course, using a pumpkin and using teamwork and problem solving skills," Redmon said.
This year, Cron also extended the competition to include the elementary schools for the first time.
"I will say that now that the elementary schools have seen the winner, because they dropped their pumpkins off, they're like, 'Oh, this is what we have to compete against,'" Redmon said. "So, I'm pretty sure it's going to be game on next year, so be ready for that."
The winners of the contest this year are in BHS's third period Black Day Advanced Manufacturing Class, led by Kranning. The student team members include Tyler Baker, John Stotler, Marshall Rogers, Trevor Mullen, Eli Payton, Corwin Cundiff, Corbin Stephens, Dylan Underhill, Zerrick Schmitt and Hunter Morgan.
"Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Cron for being able to do this and put forth the money, which as we all know, is very important to keep things functioning. It's amazing," Kranning said. "Every year, as a teacher and facilitator, I just get to kind of say, 'Here is what I want.' And I step back and these guys just tear it up, in a good way of course. The thing is, I don't really have to do anything. This year, I didn't have to put out fights or fires. They really jumped on it."
And even though Kranning was out of school a few days due to a sickness going around, he said his students stayed on the project.
"When I came back, I was like, 'You might want to rethink the design....that's an awful amount of work to do in the short amount of time '" he said. "Because they had it all mapped out as a group and they were, [like], 'We're going to do it.'"
Kranning said he backed off and crossed his fingers. Luckily, it all worked out, with the students finishing just in the nick of time.
"Sure enough, the paint was still wet when we put it in the van and hauled it over here," he said. "But they took it all the way down to the end and did a fantastic job. I'm amazed by my students every year of course, but you know, for them to come together and do this and to really just come up with an idea on their own and then take it and form it into some kind of reality in a short amount of time every year just blows me away. It makes this job so much more fun and so, I just want to thank these guys for their handwork and determination."
Tim Cron said he is always impressed by Kranning's high school students and their commitment to the craft.
"His group of kids always really come up with a lot of wild crazy things," he said. "They've welded metal motorcycles, race cars and even an alligator."
BHS junior John Stotler said after graduation, he plans to pursue his family's business of truck driving, and said he was grateful he could use the practical tools he has learned in his manufacturing class and take them into the real world.
"So, with what we did in this project, it follows in truck driving," he said. "Like, we haul for Prime [Foods LLC] right now and we have to carry boxes and my grandfather asked, 'Well, do you know how to weld?' And I said, 'Yeah, I know how to weld, I was taught in school."
Stotler used the practical skills he was taught in class to weld a box to hold chemicals so the chickens they were driving across state lines wouldn't get sick.
"I have actually welded four or five of them now and preparing to teach me how to weld, surprisingly as good as I am sometimes, it may not look pretty, they hold up," he said. "It's really surprising that a lot of schools still have your tech classes and wood shop."
BHS senior Tyler Baker said he really enjoyed the adrenaline rush of having to finish the project so quickly and how it bonded him and his classmates together.
"It really helps you to understand the people who you are in the class with, especially in that time crunch, since [we're] going through all of that stress, you know, it really shows your true colors," he said. "And it's nice to know I have a bunch of really nice guys in my class that I can work with, that we can solve any problem that is thrown at us and make it turn out as best as we can."
School board member Jeff Baker teased the student, telling him to keep up the legacy of their last name.
"I'll ride your coattails," the board member said.
Joking aside, Stotler agreed with his classmate on how great of an experience the project was.
"I am just glad that we were able to work together," he said, "and come together with everybody's different walks of life, and agree on something and get it done."
Tim Cron said it made him happy to hear Stotler and Baker had such a great experience with the contest at the school board meeting.
"I was trying to show the kids I didn't care what kind of background you come from," he said on his reasoning to start the contest in the first place. "That everybody can come together to make a project that is exceptionally great."