His name is Kevin Baas, but many in the motorcycle community know him as “Teach”–the public high school shop teacher that started the first ever Chopper Class. Kevin was looking for a way to teach his students valuable hands on skills and safe use of tools and equipment while creating a real world “COOL” project. This all started back in the 2002-2003 school year when he had his old 1958 XLCH. The students saw him riding it in the staff parking lot and they would come over to hear it run and ask questions about it.  Immediately, the light bulb went on: use the students interest and excitement to create a club that would help them stay focused and learn new skills. Kevin’s Kennedy Chopper Project was born that school year!
Kevin and his student crew started out by tearing down the an old Ironhead and going through the bike piece by piece. The intent was to have it running well enough to do a burnout in class before the school year ended. As more and more kids heard about this club, the numbers started to grow; after school they met in the metal shop to work on the bike. Well, enthusiasm was high and they finished the bike on schedule; Kevin did the first class burnout to fist pumps and high fives and the future was set.
The next year Kevin picked up a 1957 Panhead basket case to work on. But instead of after school as a side project, he incorporated the whole chopper class idea into his metals class during school hours. This tactic really helped him gain momentum. Paul Cox tooled the students a seat for that bike and with his support, Kevin was able to successfully contact others and talk about the project. As a result of those conversations, The Horse magazine ran a small feature on what he was doing. That article in turn sparked a lot of interest and a donation build idea was born for the next year to help pad the class’ teeny budget and minimal equipment. The wheels were in motion now, and the kids’ interest in tackling a new motorcycle project was in high gear.
The following year Spartan Frameworks donated a frame and front end, S&S contributed a motor, and with the help of Donnie Smith they spread the word about the project and gathered other needed parts. That bike came together so well that Kevin and his class won some awards at the Donnie Smith Invitational. To make matters even better, the father of the lead student on the project bought the bike, built in tribute to his lost son. Another successful project in learning and a real life lesson in community for high-schoolers, truly a rare combination.
Fast forward to present… Kevin’s Kennedy Chopper Class now have numerous bikes under their belts and are honored to be an invited builder at such main events as Born Free in California, where Teach won 1st place in the panhead class with his dual carb 1952 two years ago. Last year for Born Free 6 Kevin’s student crew built a 1940 ULH 80″ flathead and thanks to sponsorship by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys® and Harley-Davidson, Kevin and the bike got down there and back.
Kevin & his class started writing a monthly article for Cycle Source Magazine as well as documenting their progress in class, yet another brilliant opportunity to incorporate learning into the excitement of the project.  Following the students through their journey of designing, building and customizing bikes is just as much fun as experiencing it. Kevin and his kids hope that with the continued support from the motorcycle industry and that of riders and fans who appreciate his positive hands-on teaching methods, they will be able to keep this class alive and strong. Any donations are tax deductible, and they are always looking for sponsors. Join us here at Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys® in supporting this kick-ass gentleman and his fired-up not-necessarily-street-bike-legal crew at [email protected]
Live Free, Ride Hard, and Go Kevin Baas!