Checking Out Motorcycles

MotoGo engine repair shop now housed in library


Ruben Rippner

Three motorcycles in an area of the high school library converted into a workshop

Why are there three gutted motorcycles and a wall of tools in the library?

The answer? MotoGo Club.

“It’s essentially shop class,” said Brian Schaffran, one of MotoGo Club’s two coaches. Students in the club take apart motorcycles, replace the seals, and then put them back together. 

MotoGo is operating out of the library for its third year at the high school. In its first year, the club worked outside under the football stadium, and last year the club moved inside to the former gun range.

Principal Eric Juli said that he made the decision to move the club to the library. “Making the library a library/makerspace is an opportunity to show our school community that learning by doing is an important part of our school,” Juli wrote in an email.

“Principal Juli just really wanted it to be in a more central location so everybody could see what was happening, and hopefully get tons of other people to sign up for it,” Schaffran said. 

Others have expressed concern about the club’s location in the library. Librarian Robin Sweigart said that the club’s workspace takes up the back of the library, and the motorcycle work leaves behind an unpleasant odor. “I think the club is a good program; I just wish there was a different location,” Sweigart said.

Schaffran said that enrollment is up this year, from six members to nine for the first semester and 12 students signed up for the second semester. “It would be great if it got bigger, and we actually got to bring in a fourth motorcycle instead of just three,” Schraffran said.

MotoGo teaches the motorcycle program at eight other schools, including Laurel School and Gilmour Academy, according to Schaffran.

Schaffran said that students don’t need to know how to do everything on their first try. “Learning by failing, lots and lots of failing. Lots of mistakes, lots of ruined parts, lots of figuring it out as you go,” Schaffran said.

MotoGo gives students an opportunity to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting, according to Schaffran. “It’s extremely important, especially for the students that are being forced to try and learn by looking at a chalkboard when that’s not the best way that they learn,” Schaffran said. “I think it opens their eyes up to the fact that they’re not failures and they’re not dumb.”

Junior Edward Bennett is glad that he joined the club. “It’s been a very fun experience,” said Bennett. “I was really interested in working with motorcycles and learning about how the engine works and the different components of it.”

Gareth Sax, a junior who is a member of the club, said it presents a unique opportunity.  “You can’t learn this through some class or a YouTube video,” he said. 

Schaffran related a story about a MotoGo student from another school system that the club really impacted. “We had one kid at a school, he asked me what to do next and I said, ‘OK it’s on page 73. It’s step 94,’ and he brought the book over to me and he said, ‘I can’t read.’ He was a junior.”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Schraffan said. He read the instructions to the student, and the student completed the work.

“The next week I went back to that school for another session, and the reading specialist came into the room,” Schaffran said. “She said ‘Man, I have been chasing him for reading help since he was a freshman, and he never would come to any of my classes, he would never stay after school, learn how to read. And now because he wants to build a motorcycle and needs to read the manual, now he’s coming to me for extra reading help and he’s learning how to read.”

“That’s the reason for doing this,” Schaffran said. “I just ran into him a couple weeks ago and he told me he’s graduating.

Said Schaffran, “This is not about motorcycles, this is about learning.”

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