Short-term Courses Offer Cross-Spectrum of Interests

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El Reno is developing a reputation and following for its wall murals painted by local Chris Small. Small teaches short-term courses in mural art, pencil drawing and now acrylic/oil painting at CV Tech. This Route 66 mural features artistic touches, such as vintage advertising, a turtle crossing the road and a classic Chevy Corvette.

Eighty-three percent of the workforce is on the job sometime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The figures, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, lead to a conclusion that evenings are best for most to pursue interests, such as tinkering in the garage, the woodshop, the kitchen or on a computer.

Night classes at Canadian Valley Technology Center have been offered for nearly five decades. Some are for hobbyists, while others like cake decorating or jewelry making could lead to a profitable side business. All contribute to life-long learning at a leisurely pace.

Classes are offered once or twice each week at CV Tech’s three area locations (Chickasha, El Reno and Yukon). Many last just a few weeks.

Murals: Art of the People

Local artist Chris Small has painted several murals in his hometown of El Reno. Some on Historic Route 66 nod to a time when highways provided a lifeline linking communities with paying customers often just passing through.

Route 66 was the nation’s shortest route between the Midwest and the Pacific Coast beginning in the mid-1920s. The road spanned 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif.

The highway intersected familiar cities like St. Louis, Amarillo, Santa Fe, and Flagstaff. It also traversed the obscure towns of Doolittle, Mo., Funks Grove, Ill., Newberry Springs, Calif., and Geary, Okla.

Interstate bypasses changed the landscape and relegated many towns to sleepy status.

Route 66 was decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985, though significant portions remain. CV Tech’s El Reno Campus sits adjacent to a two-lane stretch of Route 66.

Small believes murals are cause for a pause from fast-paced lives.

“For me, I feel like our lives are on autopilot,” Small said. “People get somewhere and don’t remember much about how they got there. A mural, if it’s done well, can be something to help people snap out of their daily routine and notice something unique and interesting.”

Small teaches short-term art classes at CV Tech, including mural art and pencil drawing. This fall, he will also teach an acrylic/oil painting class. Some students, he said, tell him the art classes are therapeutic.

RVs on the Rise

Randel Conner is a master of RV ed. Conner, of El Reno, began leading recreational vehicle (RV) seminars many years ago for a large area dealership. He also teaches RV maintenance classes at CV Tech’s El Reno Campus.

Conner covers topics, including electricity, tire safety and RV club memberships. He also dispels myths and misinformation shared among the roughly 10.5 million American RV owners.

“Many RV owners pour bleach into their fresh-water tanks thinking that it keeps water fresh longer,” he said. “But bleach mixes with the plastic holding tanks and creates a toxic chemical reaction.”

RV’ing is hip, whether it’s pop-ups, pull-behinds, large Class A’s, van-like Class B’s or bed-over cab Class C’s. Sales across the U.S. are on a 40-year upswing, reaching nearly half a million units last year, according to a study released by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).

Knife Class Has a Point

CV Tech offers two levels of knife making classes. The introductory class includes hand assembly of a fixed-blade knife. It is intended to help participants decide whether or not they want to pursue this more, said instructor Bill Kennedy Jr., who distributes knives he makes worldwide from his Yukon home.

The more advanced “basic” class includes designing and crafting a knife from beginning to end using bar stock. Students may choose from a variety of handle materials, Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s craftsmanship has been featured in national publications, such as Blade Magazine and Knife Magazine. He said he enjoys sharing from his wealth of knife knowledge but admits he is a year behind on knife orders for his home business. Clientele stretch from England to South Africa and from the French Riviera to New Orleans.

CV Tech’s classes are a starting point for fledgling knife enthusiasts, Kennedy said.

“They will have to progress on their own,” he said. “I will teach them how to hollow grind a knife. It’s a great way to try it and not have a lot of expense. And at the same time, you will have a knife that you can use and pass down for generations.”

Kennedy does all the required heat treating at home. Forging is not part of the class. Students saw out their pattern on the first night and drill holes for fasteners.

A complete list of short-term courses is available at


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