CHS Alum Soars in His Life's Calling
Caronport High School gave Steve Fenton the wings to fly . . . really.
Fenton, who runs an aerospace systems design firm, only came to CHS in 1979-80 for his Grade 12 year, but he says the small school provided the “exact recipe” he needed to turn his life around.
“Besides my serious love for music and my exceptional enjoyment of the ‘latest’ Christian rock artists like Keith Green and The Imperials, I was a person with no drive, ambition or focus,” Fenton said. “I knew I needed a big life change from that of my local secular school.”
Fenton found out about CHS through word of mouth from an older friend in his Kitchener, ON youth group who had gone to the school.
“I didn’t have a lot of hope for my own future,” Fenton admitted. “That’s what got me determined to go out there. In the summer months before my Caronport year, and for the first time in my life, I had a strong desire to get acquainted with and adhere to all the school rules and requirements. I was focused on being an achiever at CHS from the outset.”
Fenton says the environment he experienced at CHS gave him “confidence building, personal growth, and a strong drive to achieve.”
“I picked my life verse out while at the school,” he said. “Colossians 3:23 needs to be applied to each and every aspect of our lives and its message should also be applied to any other verse we choose to live by.”
He credits the staff at CHS for investing into him his Grade 12 year.
“Bill Latrace, our dorm dad, and Henry Dirksen, the high school music teacher were key ingredients to my ultimate success . . . in that life transforming year of spiritual renewal,” he said.
“Bill Latrace was actively involved with us and kept everybody pointed in the right direction,” Fenton said. “Halfway through the year Mr. Latrace gave me the title of “hall RA” which wasn’t supposed happen to a first year student, but . . . I was pleased that I was given this opportunity and responsibility.”
Latrace remembers Fenton as a “good student with a good reputation who had lots of energy.”
Fenton involved himself in “every possible music activity the school offered”. One day his abundant energy inspired him to explore underneath the music stage where he discovered an old, abandoned sousaphone. After he got permission to keep it, he put it back together and got it in working order.
The repaired tuba worked in Fenton’s favour.
“I eventually traded the tuba with Bill Latrace for a previously well-enjoyed 1955 Ford Customline four door sedan,” Fenton recalled. “It had a dried up dead cat (frozen) to the engine block requiring good elbow grease and a stainless steel scraper to medically separate from my sweet ride.”
After surgically removing the dead cat from the car’s engine, Fenton put a brand new battery in the car – backwards. Those 1955 cars had 6 volt batteries requiring a positive, not a negative ground. Even though the car required battery boosts every 200 miles, Fenton and his best buddy drove it all the way back to Ontario.
Fenton still has the car and keeps it parked in the back of his workplace in Cayuga, Ont.
At the 1980 graduation ceremony for CHS, Fenton received the Fine Arts award from Henry Dirksen. His parents flew in from Ontario to see the “miracle” of his graduation.
“When I received the award for fine arts . . . while at the same time actually graduating, I knew that anything was possible,” Fenton insisted. “My parents were actually proud for once! Mr. Henry Dirksen needs to know that that award had a profound effect on my life and that of my family.”
Fenton is not embarrassed to say that his graduation from CHS remains the last of his official scholastic education.
“It served me well,” Fenton said. “Several years ago now I started an aerospace systems design firm called Battlefield International Inc. and God has truly blessed our company beyond measure.”
Fenton’s company designs and experimentally develops products for aerospace and military firms in the United States.
“A back packable spy craft vehicle called the Honeywell T-Hawk has been flying over the tsunami ravaged Fukushima plant and taking live HD video and pictures reducing the requirement for experts to be exposed to the very heavy amounts of radiation,” Fenton explained. “Our firm designed and produced several key components included on this air vehicle.”
Along with his success in aerospace projects, Fenton hasn’t forgotten his passion for music.
In 2010 Fenton partnered with Phill Botting, the 2008 national karaoke star winner for Country Music Television (CMT). Their group, The Phill Botting band, recorded a CD called “Weekend Train”. Bob Doidge, who has worked on recordings for U2, Crash Test Dummies, and Gordon Lightfoot, was their producer.
The group’s song, Walking Through a Valley, is still being played on secular radio stations across Canada.
“(It’s) a song with a solid Christian message,” Fenton said. “We were also played on over 152 radio stations on November 11th 2010 with our song called A Soldier’s Home.”
The Phill Botting band has played at Hamilton Place Great Hall and was a guest act with Travis Tritt in Elmira, New York.
Fenton’s relationship with CHS has continued through his children. His second daughter, Paula also attended CHS for Grades 11 and 12. While there, she met her future husband Michael Falk. The two were married this May and Steve is thrilled with his new son-in- law.
The CHS alum urges other graduates of the school to support their alma mater.
“Every alumnus reading this needs to speak up when you feel the Spirit lead to promote this work of God and keep it strong,” Fenton said. “Although it’s always easier to say nothing, don’t miss any chance to assist the school that changed your life by putting in a good word at every opportunity.”