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12:06 AM Wed, July 18th

PHS program provides 'diversified' experience

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Prescott High School (PHS) senior Kenny Bissegger wants to be an architect someday, so the experience he's getting at Kasper Woodworks, Inc., is valuable in more ways than one.

Through the PHS Diversified Cooperative Education (DCE) program, which Tom Bockman instructs, Bissegger is learning to make fine cabinet doors along with something about the business world.

Russell Kasper, owner/manager of the growing company, has employed DCE students off and on for about 10 years.

"Tom called and asked if I had a place for a student, and since we've been busy and most of his kids have been sharp, I said sure," Kasper said Tuesday.

Bissegger's duties as a helper/trainee involve cleanup, sanding, laminating, and preparing parts for assembly, which includes a large amount of quality control. Also, he operates some of the shop's power machinery.

Kasper specializes in the manufacture of cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Its customers are mostly smaller custom cabinetmaking shops around the state. Half of them are local.

Bissegger, 17, is in his third week of working afternoons, Monday through Thursday, at Kasper. However, his interest in woodworking developed several years ago when he got a scroll saw as a gift.

"I really enjoyed working with wood," he said. "In woodshop class, I made a small rolltop chest, then a jewelry box with raised panel doors and routed design on top for my mom."

Those results encouraged him to establish a small workshop at home, where he experiments with designs. He sold several redwood wind spiral decorations through Watters Garden Center, of Prescott, and is thinking up additional projects.

Further, Bissegger is taking a series of classes in woodturning bowls and spindles at Yavapai College. After graduation, he plans to continue his studies, perhaps at the University of Arizona.

Ramon Chacon has worked at Kasper Woodworks for six years and has been shop foreman for 3-1/2 years. He believes Bissegger's future is bright.

"He's got a good head; I think he's going to pick it up real fast, plus he's a good worker," Chacon said. " He's very interested in what we show him, and he really wants to learn."

The DCE program lets students work part-time in various fields, so they can decide what to study after high school graduation.

For details, call Bockman at 445-2322. Call 772-9205 for information about Kasper Woodworks.

Contact Louise Koniarski at lkoniarski@prescottaz.com