Walking into Roosevelt High School, most visitors go straight to the auditorium or the office for a meeting or presentation, but in the very southeast corner of the school, there is the only high school automotive shop in the district. Four hoists, including one alignment rack, a tire machine, and anything else you would need to diagnose and fix any car fill the shop.
We came to Roosevelt for the automotive program, and we have been in the program for all four years. This program attracts kids with an interest in the auto industry and who are thinking about pursuing it for a career. The program is for anyone who wants to learn about cars at any level, even if you don’t make a career out of it. If nothing else, you will be able to know what a mechanic is telling you when you have car problems. The main automotive service teacher, Ashraf Khalafalla (A.K.), said, “I think if students want to do the work, they will. But it’s up to the student.”
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The teachers in the auto program go out of their way to answer any questions. Almost every day, the teachers stay after school to work on special projects including a solar powered car, a high mileage, and a boat. Students are welcome to stay after and help.
A.K. has been teaching at Roosevelt for 10 years. Before becoming an auto teacher, he was a mechanic and a wood shop teacher. His main hobby is drag racing; he has two of his own racecars and one that he and his students built for the students to race.
Three weeks ago, A.K took us out to race it at Rock Falls Raceway in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We raced all day long and got about fifteen passes or races in the school car. He has taken nine kids racing now. Personally, we think it’s a good experience for us because its one of those things that everyone should do in their lifetime. High performance cars are a huge part of the automotive world and everyone is a part of that because cars are everywhere.
Mr. Mountain is the automotive dean. He deals with all of the problems of the auto magnet students. He has been at Roosevelt for fourteen years. According to Mr. Mountain the automotive program is the best one he knows of with the best facilities. He believes that with the equipment and teachers we have, a student can learn a lot about cars as long as they have the motivation to learn. For the most part, kids behavior is good in the program, with just some of the occasional goofy moments of the young ninth and tenth graders
Over the last four years, we have gained many skills and experiences at RHS though the auto program. It has been really nice to be able to get our hands dirty and see what it like to work on the cars, not just read about it or watch a informational movie. The program has helped us tremendously on deciding what steps of life we will take after high school graduation. We have both chosen to move on to Dunwoody College of technology and join them in their automotive service program. From there, we hope to be a full time mechanics.