Perry opens bigger doors with industrial tech, multipurpose/wrestling project; Open house set for Oct. 26

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Automotive instructor Curt Cornelius observes students working on a vehicle inside the new automotive addition.

The doors to a bigger future are officially open for Perry.

After a year of construction, the industrial tech and multipurpose/wrestling room project is nearly complete. The Perry Community School District passed a $6.5 million bond referendum for the project in February of 2019. Ground was officially broken in August of 2019 and continued throughout the year. 

The finishing touches are being made to the new additions. The public will have a chance to see both spaces during an open house from 5-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26 during parent-teacher conference night.

Industrial tech, automotive areas gain additional space

The biggest part of the industrial tech portion of the project was room for the program to grow.

“Space is a big percentage of what we were looking for,” said Chad Morman, industrial tech teacher.

“We more than doubled the space. We went from about 6,000 square foot total to 13,000 square foot total,” automotive instructor Curt Cornelius added of the project. 

The existing industrial tech area in the middle school was refurbished and now includes space for woods and metals classes.

The automotive area, which used to occupy a space inside the industrial tech area, now has its own area as an addition was built on to the back of the current space. 

Chad Morman talks about the additional space in the industrial tech area.

While a lot remained the same in the industrial tech area, Morman said they now have the room to work on various projects.

“We set it up so in the future if we grow in size, we can have two classrooms going at the same time so you could have metals and woods,” he said.

A new dust collection system helps with air quality. Morman added that new air scrubbers in all four corners also help circulate the air “to try and keep things as clean as possible.”

The industrial tech area will have two classrooms setup for the woods and metals sides.

Morman waited to order tables for the metals side as he wanted to see how the space worked. The metals and woods sides will be set up like two different classrooms. Before, he said the same space was used for multiple uses and projects.

“Now we have the capability of using the space more effectively whenever something comes up for a project,” Morman said.

The automotive side features an open floor plan with the classroom and lab in one large room. Cornelius said that allows for greater flexibility as his small engines class can use the classroom area while those in automotive engines can come in and start working in another area.

Perry High School students work in the new automotive addition.

The added flexibility extends to the automotive bays.

“The main thing is I could only fit three cars in before and if I have 20 students in a class, it’s very difficult to have 20 students working on three cars,” Cornelius said. “Now I have the ability to put 10 cars in the shop where I can have two students per car and it’s a lot safer and more effective on the teaching side of it. That’s the biggest thing.” 

Three new lifts were added and now four vehicles can be in the air at the same time.

“Our program is growing, we’ve always had really good numbers. Now we can just do class more effectively. I can have eight students working on vehicles in the air and I can have the other students working on vehicles on the ground,” Cornelius said.

Students work on vehicles in the new automotive area.

The additional space will also allow the SkillsUSA program to grow.

“We have the space available for some of those kids to come in and practice for some of their competitions where before we were limited. It’s nice to have all of those kids participate at the same time,” Morman said. 

Morman and Cornelius agreed that the project will allow the program to grow into the future.

“In 10 years, it might look completely different, but we have a big open space,” Cornelius said.

New worktables were added to the automotive area.

Cornelius added that he may change up the configuration of the automotive side yet this year as he sees how the space works. 

“We described it as we want a big, open box and we’ll worry about filling it later. That’s what we got,” Cornelius said of the open spaces. “It’s a lot easier to say ‘we’ll fill it later’ than say ‘we outgrew it again, we need to make the shop bigger again.'” 

Look for a story on the multipurpose/wrestling room portion of the project at