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Career and technical education is a family affair for the Krafts

Dick Kraft of Depew believes and practices -- the axiom that a person should learn something new every day.

"If you get up in the morning and you don't learn something new, you shouldn't have gotten up," said Kraft, an inspector for an engineering firm.

That might be why he thinks career and technical education at BOCES should be mandatory for all students.

"BOCES is a starting block for all of them," he said. "It's an important part of a kid's education because they don't know what they want."

But Richard Kraft is the only one in his family who has not taken technical training.

His wife, Susan, attended the Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Center for nursing, which launched a 39-year career at St. Joseph Hospital.

Their fathers had technical training. Leon Stein took auto mechanics at Burgard High School and Paul Kraft went for carpentry at McKinley High School.

Paul and Susan Kraft's three sons, Adam, Eric and Brian, all graduates of Depew High School, took courses at the Harkness Center that have influenced their career paths.

Adam Kraft, 28, took culinary arts at Harkness for two years, and got a job as a prep cook at TGI Fridays while he was still in high school. He's still working for the restaurant, and attending Buffalo State College for business management.

Eric Kraft, 25, also took culinary arts at Harkness before attending Erie Community College and getting his teaching certificate at Buffalo State College. He was the head baker at Dessert Deli in Amherst and dropped down to part-time last year when he got a substitute teaching job at the Harkness Center.

Brian Kraft, 23, took building trades, and helped build a house in one of his courses at the Harkness Center. He graduated from ECC, got a job at 84 Lumber, and now works at Pella Windows.

Eric Kraft was hired at Dessert Deli right out of high school, and he believes his BOCES training and internship at Park Country Club helped him.

"When I went into my internship, I think I was ahead of the game," he said. "I think that's why they hired me."

He completed his student teaching at the Harkness Center, impressing the administration enough that they named him a substitute teacher.

The family is a working-walking-talking endorsement for career and technical education, trying to fight the negative image some have of BOCES programs.

"You always heard that," Eric Kraft said of BOCES put-downs. "We just told them it's a trade school and you go there to learn a certain trade. It helps you to see what you want to do in life."

The Krafts encouraged their children to go to the Harkness Center.

"I always thought it was a great school. Everybody, I feel, is not college bound material," Susan Kraft said. "Everybody needs to learn a trade. BOCES was a perfect opportunity."

She likes the program because students can try different fields to see if they like them.

"We always feel there's too many kids out there who have absolutely no idea what they want to do with their life," she said.