Team effort

By Michael Costa/Community CorrespondentMay 15, 2013 

The 4th Annual Yosemite High School Car Show, planned and organized by auto shop teacher Mike Monahan, five "senior project" students and several student helpers, featured 60 classic cars on display for the mountain community to view and enjoy May 4 at the Oakhurst Community Park.

"The goals of the car show are for young adults to learn about cars, as well as raise money for auto shop," Monahan said.

Four years ago Sean Dangleis and Chad Gobble, two Yosemite High seniors, who were looking for a senior project, came up with the idea to host a community car show. The event raised money to buy new equipment for the YHS auto shop and donated additional funds to other organizations including the future Farmers of America. The first year, the event raised nearly $2,000 and was the start of an annual tradition at the school.

This year, senior Chris Franklin stumbled upon a second generation Chevy small block 350 engine which Redman's machine shop (QAC) donated for a school project and assisted Franklin with rebuilding the engine. The engine will be auctioned at next years car show.

"I am raising money to help improve the auto program and help other seniors in the years to come," Franklin said.

Although, the amount of cars and people involved have changed over the past four years, one thing remains constant -- the community support of the show. For many of the students involved, cars have been a passion in their family for generations. Corey Cuthbert, whose father has worked on cars all his life and has an uncle who's an auto shop teacher in Santa Maria, see's himself following in the their footsteps. That's why he picked the YHS car show as his senior project.

Cuthbert has a goal of attending UTI Auto Mechanic School in Sacramento and eventually becoming a certified diesel technician and possibly be part of race team and pit crew. According to Cuthbert, the show has been designed to welcome every type of car from 1920s and 30s vintage automobiles, Model A's, hot rods of the 40s and 50, to popular muscle cars like Firebirds, Mustangs and Corvettes.

Chanelle Parker, who helped with the show, recalls spending a lot of time around cars with her father as a young child.

"My father had an auto body shop, so I have always been surrounded by vintage cars," Parker said. "It only made sense that I would choose to assist with the car show as my senior project."

"The school budget doesn't allow for much money towards auto shop," said auto shop student Jacob Krucki. "The car show is pretty much the only outside source of income the auto shop receives to buy new equipment. This show has to happen every year."

Krucki and fellow students consider Monahan a mentor who has inspired them to learn by using hands-on training and allowing them to build something from nothing.

Monahan said he wants the car show grow into a larger fundraisng event due to restrictive educational budgets.

"We need to be more proactive and start doing more to increase our funding for auto shop," Monahan said.

"The show was a success because of the five students (Franklin, Parker, Carlos, Kruicki and Cuthbert) who took this on as their senior project," Monahan said. "It taught them management and people skills they will use for their rest of their lives.

Monahan, who will retire at the end of the school year after teaching auto shop at YHS for 23 years, feels teaching auto shop is about making the students believe in themselves and making themselves marketable as future auto technicians.

Monahan, wife Elaine, and seven of their nine children, will be moving to Susanville, where Mike will work at the California Corerrectional Center as an auto shop instructor.

"It's been a great experience living in Oakhurst -- a great place to raise a family with great churches and a great community," Monahan said.

"I totally enjoyed living in Oakhurst and teaching at Yosemite High School for the past 23 years," Monahan said. "I want to thank everyone in the community for their generous support of Yosemite High, including auto shop and the football program."

First place trophies were presented to car owners in 11 divisions.

Monahan said the show would not be possible without the sponsor support including O'Reilly, Napa and Car Quest auto part stores, Idea Print Work, Dave Wolin and Bodies by Boyd.

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