East Dragsters ... er ... Dragons Are Geared Up

Vroom, Vroom!
Posted on 05/25/2018
Image of East CLC Car Show(as reported by Theresa Cottom, Ohio.com/Akron Beacon Journal)

There’s a cherry-red 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with black racing stripes and a roaring engine parked in the automotive service facility at East high school, and the group of seven kids behind its shine are itching to show it off.

Students at East received the troubled car in December. They’ve fixed it up just in time to put it on display during the school’s first student-hosted community classic car show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 2.

The students — six juniors and one freshman — all take Chadwick Groom’s engine performance class at East, where they learn about automotive repair and apply those skills to servicing staff members’ cars in a fully functional car garage at the school.

The Monte Carlo was donated by Stark State College, where Groom taught before he started at East in 2016. When Groom received the car, it was “running rough” with no oil pressure, he said.

But students quickly took interest in making it reach its potential with extra work outside of class.

“This crew is super dedicated,” Groom said. “Everybody brings something different to the table.”

Zackery Smith, 18, was a driving force behind the project. When Groom first received the car, Smith was one of the first who dug into trouble-shooting it and researching where to buy needed parts.

Others quickly got on board to work on the car after school, eager to tinker with a real car they could make race-ready on their own.

Emily Isenhart, 17, joined the group in February as its only girl.

“The first day I came in, they treated me like I’ve been there the whole year,” Emily said. “They showed me how to do everything and didn’t make it awkward.”

Though she is the only girl, Emily began working on cars with her dad far before she could even drive. Her dad taught her “almost everything I need to know” about cars, from welding to engine repair.

She passed those lessons and more on to the rest of the guys.

“She taught the boys how to drive stick,” Groom said.

Between the seven of them, the students gutted the seats, did exhaust work, made engine repairs and fixed several other things the car needed to run properly.

After the car was repaired, the students wanted to make it even better by modifying it to go faster. They held two fundraisers throughout the year to raise more than $700 to buy extra parts for it.

The students initially fixed up the car with hopes of racing it, but those plans fell through, so the car show is their first chance to show the community what they’ve been working on during the year.

Students from the automotive, hospitality and tourism and marketing programs at East joined to host the car show.

Concession stands will be open during the event, and their proceeds will fund future student-led community events and field trips.

The show is free and open to community members who want to show off their rides. Groom said about half of the 70 spots are filled already, and those who register before the event get a free lunch for themselves and a guest.

Automotive students will be on hand to lead tours through the automotive service facility and to answer questions about their programs.

But for those who want to see the students’ passion, they won’t need to look any further than the shiny Monte Carlo finally on display.

“It’s an achievement,” said 17-year-old Alexander Jacot before hopping inside and revving the engine one recent Thursday afternoon.

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