Auto-tech students repair and sell used car, donate proceeds to St. Helens High School NHS as a fundraiser

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Students in the St. Helens High School advanced auto-tech program and National Honor Society pose for a photo with other school and district staff, and the buyer of the used car. Pictured from left to right are: SHHS Assistant Principal Ron Hernley, students Benjamin Torres, Aaron Navarro, Joseph Johnson, Jordan Simonson, Zack McKinney, Kaitlyn Silva, Joseph Austin, Lydia Rose, SHHS secretary Diana Peterson and Superintendent Scot Stockwell; in the front row: Emelia Paullus and Taylor Dow. Two student organizations at St. Helens High School came together this school year to take part in a fundraiser to benefit the school's National Honor Society chapter.

Earlier this school year, students in the advanced auto-tech class at the high school partnered with the National Honor Society by repairing and selling a used car, and donating the proceeds to the club.

Students in the auto-tech program typically work throughout the school year to diagnose mechanical issues and help perform services on vehicles in need of repair as a part of the high school's career and technical education program.

Mike Hedrich is the automotive technology teacher at SHHS and runs Mike's Automotive, which operates as a vehicle repair shop housed within the high school. Hedrich explained that the students are learning to work on vehicles, but also learn about running a business. Like any good community business partner, the students find a way to give back each year, and helping the high school's National Honor Society was one way to do that.

"As a shop and as a business, we think we need to give back to the community because they bring us customers and money," auto-tech student and high school senior Joseph Austin added. "The National Honor Society was looking for a fundraiser and we thought it would be a good idea to donate a car, or sell a car, and then donate the money."

Over the course of several months, students in the auto-tech program worked on an older model Nissan Altima so it could ultimately be sold to a private buyer. The students worked on fixing door handles, matching door paint, replacing brake pads and replacing valve gaskets to make the car operable.

The students also noticed a crack in the windshield and approached Columbia River Auto Glass to ask about repairing it. The company donated a new windshield, for which the students and Hedrich were thankful.

When the repairs were done, the auto-tech students also did market research to determine a sale price and advertised to find a buyer for the car.

Students in NHS were grateful to benefit from the work and even helped clean the interior and exterior of the car before it was sold, in exchange for the generosity shown by the auto-tech students.

Diana Peterson, the athletics and student body secretary at St. Helens High School, ended up purchasing the car for $1,500. Peterson said her family was in need of a reliable and economical vehicle for her daughter when she heard about the Nissan the auto-tech students were selling.

Peterson said she and her husband have been taking their vehicles to the students working with Mike's Automotive program for years, and knew the students had done good work on the car.

Being able to support two school programs with the vehicle was an added benefit, she explained.

Throughout the school year, NHS specializes in doing community service projects to provide for others in need. This particular fundraiser helped benefit the club, and the money will help pay for things like honor cords for graduating seniors and other supplies that are often needed throughout the school year, several NHS members explained.

"I think it was really cool that we actually had one student body, as a company, that wanted to come in and actually help another that was actually in need," said NHS member and high school senior Kaitlyn Silva.

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