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Northeast Metro Tech Repairs Car, Utilizes Project for Remote Lessons

Northeast Metro Tech Partners with Second Chance Cars to Repair Vehicle for Local Veteran

WAKEFIELD– A vehicle repaired by Northeast Metro Tech’s Auto Body and Automotive Technology programs will now be driven by a local veteran, thanks to a partnership between the District and Second Chance Cars.

The car was presented to Maria Roca, of Haverhill, a 19 year National Guard veteran and single mother of three children, on Tuesday, April 6 at Northeast Metro Tech.

Those in attendance included Roca and her children, administrators, teachers, students, Second Chance Cars Director Dan Holin, Massachusetts National Guard Coordinator Gregory Sacca, students, and Wally Johnston and Jane Hotchkiss of Concord, who donated the vehicle to Second Chance Cars.

“Taking care of three young kids in a small apartment during COVID has been incredibly hard. Then my car stopped working and everything just became a lot harder,” Roca said. “When my support team from the VA and National Guard introduced me to Second Chance Cars I was excited but not sure if it was real. I’m relieved to say that we got a car–my kids are super excited and I can now go shop and get to my medical appointments.”

During the last few months, a small group of students worked with instructors to repair a Ford C-Max hybrid car for Second Chance, an innovative local nonprofit that awards affordable donated cars to working people. 

“I couldn’t be happier to be working with Second Chance Cars,” said Instructor Paul Murphy, who oversaw administrative aspects of the project. “It gives us great satisfaction to know that our students are sharpening their automotive service skills while also contributing to a great cause.”

“It’s always an exciting opportunity for our students to work on a project that gives back to the community, and this has been no exception. We’re thrilled to have had this chance to support Second Chance Cars’ work and for the hands-on and remote learning experience it gave our students,” Superintendent David DiBarri said.

Northeast Metro Tech had begun conversations before the pandemic with Second Chance Cars to have students repair a vehicle during vocational classes.

However, student participation was temporarily delayed because Northeast Metro Tech began the year with a fully remote learning model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Robert MacGregor, the Department Head of Collision Repair and Refinishing, instead began repairing the Ford C-Max, which had been rear-ended, creating remote lessons and demonstrations for 16 sophomore students last fall.

“This partnership was particularly special, because not only is this car going to a well-deserving local veteran, but it also helped students learn remotely during the pandemic,” Second Chance Cars Director Holin said. “This has been an incredible collaboration, and we’re thankful to Wally and Jane for their kind donation, Northeast Metro Tech for their partnership in repairing the vehicle, Metro Credit Union for the car loan and LKQ, who donated a replacement rear door as well.”

MacGregor began working on the vehicle in October and finished this December, just before the district began its hybrid learning model, allowing students to provide hands-on help for the final steps of the work.

“The live demonstrations of the repairs I watched helped me to learn and understand the repair process by seeing how it gets done rather than just reading about it,” said Andrea Hart, a sophomore from Revere. “I was able to get a visual of what happens when repairing a car.”

After body repairs were finished, the car was taken to the district’s Auto Technology Department for mechanical repairs. Automotive Technology Instructor Clune and three senior students then began making those repairs to the car. They finished their work on Jan. 22.

“I’m happy to work with Second Chance Cars and repair the Ford C-Max,” said Cristofer Davis Romero, a senior, from Chelsea. “I learned how to repair a parking brake line. Also get to help to make sure the vehicle is safe.”

Second Chance Cars is able to operate thanks to the donations of gently used vehicles from the public. To learn more about the nonprofit and the vehicle donation process, visit www.secondchancecars.org.

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