National champion high school automotive program seeking donations

Members of the national champion Jordan Vocational High School automotive program are raising money to help pay for their trip to West Palm Beach, Fla., for the Barrett-Jackson auction, April 6-8, when the classic Ford Mustang they rebuilt to win the Quaker State “Best in Class Challenge” will go to the highest bidder and the profit will benefit the program.

The car is on display through March 26 at Peachtree Mall, where program members are showing folks the result of their hard work, sharing their triumphant story and collecting donations.

Robert Harris and Tony Woodard are the teachers in Jordan’s 200-student automotive program. Local auto shop owner Mike Young of Safety 1st Collision is the professional consultant, allowed for each team. The students representing Jordan as Team Red Jacket in the contest are Austin Bedsole, Joseph Camacho, Fred Cofer, Joseph Craigen, Alejandro Gomez, Dante Lummus, Breanna Price, Jacob Van Erem, Jacob Wilton and Trennie West.

Quaker State will transport the Mustang to Florida, but the Jordan contingent of 10 students and two adults plans to leave April 5 in two SUVs. They are trying to raise $3,500 to cover their expenses. They already collected $1,300 from the donations they received while displaying the Mustang at the Valley Auction in Phenix City, Harris said.

“So far, people have really been wowed by it,” said Harris, who shows visitors the car’s before-and-after photos. “They can’t believe that the students were able to do that much work in six weeks. That part has been mind-blowing to everyone we’ve talked to.”

Wilton, a junior, said, “It feels really good to see people coming in to support us. Jordan has had some bad names in the past, but this right here, this shows everybody what Jordan is really about. We’re more than just a vocational high school. We are a career path. We help kids find jobs doing what they love to do.”

His goal is to join the Coast Guard and work in mechanics. But first, he and his instructor hope more folks in the community will help them complete this joyful journey.

“The kids, they can see what hard work can do and where it can take them,” Harris said. “When you work hard, people don’t mind helping you to where you’re trying to go.”

Harris expects the bidding for the refurbished 1996 Mustang to start at $10,000. It was estimated to be worth $3,000 when Jordan received it. Quaker State granted Jordan $2,000 to work on the car, and, six weeks later, Harris figures the Jordan students produced a vehicle that now is worth “maybe even $20,000 or $30,000.”

Asked what that kind of money could do for the program, Harris said, “Words can’t even explain it.”

Then he used these words: “It would be a life-changing boost for us.”