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Project honors classmate
Students build hovercraft
Students in the applications of engineering class at Dawson County High School prepare for a final test and official launch of a hovercraft, their semester long project. From left, Nick Tobias, Isaac Martin, Renee Santillian and Eddie Henson. - photo by Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton

One group of students at Dawson County High School is doing their part to keep alive the memory of classmate and senior, Kolton Findley, who lost his life in a single-vehicle wreck on April 17.


The Applications of Engineering class,  in which Findley was a student, did a final test and official launch of a hovercraft on April 30, a semester-long project that the group of about 20 students has been working on since January.


“Today turned about pretty good,” said junior Tony Sleigh.


“This one (test) has gone the best out of all the tests we’ve done. Our hard work has definitely paid off,” Sleigh added.


The hovercraft is five feet wide, 10 feet long, can carry up to 250 pounds and has the capability to reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour.


The craft’s paint and design scheme was the design of Findley and was the last contribution he made to the project.


“He worked really hard and helped us out a lot while we were building it,” said senior Nick Tobias.


“Anytime we needed anything or something had to be done, he was there, so we wanted to honor and remember him by choosing his paint scheme,” Tobias added.


The hovercraft features the school’s colors, maroon and gold, and displays the head of a tiger on the hood.


Dale Auten, engineering technology instructor at the high school, had never built a hovercraft before, but said that it turned out better than he had expected.


“It (hovercraft) certainly was a group project, we all learned on this together,” Auten said.


Auten added that the class was very supportive of honoring their late classmate by choosing to paint the project in his memory, following the paint scheme Findley had designed.


“He (Findley) was very creative, very mechanically inclined and did very well in the class,” Auten said.


Although the paint has been applied and the project was a success, it is still not finished.


According to senior Isaac Martin, the class is planning to put an “in memory” memoir on the hovercraft before the school year is over.


“Kolton (Findley) was a great kid who had good ideas that actually worked,” Martin said. “It was a tough loss for us, with less than a month left of school. He is truly missed and (we)want to give him the credit he deserves on a project that he contributed a lot to.”


E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at