Epiphany Working Hard

I woke up this morning, and I came to school late.  Ms. R told me that I was suppose to be at school at 8 a.m. and I didn't arrive until 9 a.m.  "I thought you said nine," I screamed to Ms. R.  Ms. R is right, I am wrong.

Ann Cohen, the director of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, picked me up at school and took me to McDonalds with Shanea.  There was some confusion about when the service project started, so the team went to McDonalds for downtime.  I had a delicous steak, egg, and cheese bagel.  Then we walked to 40th and Market for our service project.  Our goal was to pick up trash from 40th to our school on 47th and Walnut.  I picked up trash with Shanea Chellis and Ms. R.  We picked up all kinds of trash: plastic bottles, bags of chips, and lots of cardboard.  We didn't pick any glass bottles or anything like that.  We came all the way to our school and cleaned up Hansom Street and Locust.

I was on my cellphone a lot.  I was talking to my mom. "Mooooooooooooooooooom, I have to go.  I have to do my service to the community."

I really am enjoying my sophmore year.  All of my teachers help me with my work and make sure I understand my subjects. Some of my classwork is hard and sometimes I act out and get in trouble with Shanea.  I am here during community service with the team because I am in trouble with truancy court.  I know I was messing around a lot my freshman year, but I am doing much better with my attendance and grades.

_Epiphany Yates


MLK Day of Service

We started off difficult.  We didn't really know where we belonged.  We thought the service project started at nine and went to 42nd and Powelton.  We walked into a weird church that smelled.  Once we got in they told us they didn't have any room for us.  There was seven of us from the team and ourselves, Lonnie and Shermanique.  Apparently, we went to the wrong service project and since the spaces were full, we were turned away.

Ann left to go find out where the right service project was located.  In the mean time, we went to the McDonalds on 40th and Walnut.  Roger ordered a McSkillet.  Ms. R and Ann ordered a McMuffin.  According to them, it was delicious.  Much to our surprise, a older man came into the McDonalds and said "Excuse me! Excuse me! Can I have the sweetest thing you have in here?"  He then walked over to one of the employees and kissed her on the cheek.  He said it was his sister, but we were all thinking he was going to rob the McDonalds.  We later saw the same guy on 40th and Market passing out papers.  He said "I see all you doing your thing, I am going to do mine."  That was weird.

We finally found Adam Shepard who was in charge of our service project where we picked up trash from 40th street to 48th street on Market.  So much trash we picked up.  Roger actually spilled garbage juice on him.  Lakeem said that he liked it and would do it again.  Shermanique liked everything about it except the garbage juice.  Next time, we should do a service project that doesn't involve picking up trash after it rains.

Once we hit West, we took a picture of all the trash we picked up infront of the school.  We scrubbed our hands for a long time with soap and water.  After a little break, Shermaniqe, Lakeem, Epiphany, Shanea, and Ms. R went around the school to pick up more trash.  In total, we picked up three bags of trash around Hansom and Locust.

In all, it was a great day of service.  Currently, there are a bunch of students working in the shop to meet the Jan 29 deadline for the Philadelphia Car Show.

Ride or Die

Lakeem Martin, Shermanique Byrant, and Ms. R


Looking In

When I first started my secondary education courses, nothing that was found in a textbook compared to the student-teaching observations.  You would read about the pros and cons of whole language, the various scenarios of ideal classroom management, and how to find all my boyfriends, Piaget, Maslow, Bloom, and Erikson, in the students' learning patterns.  But it wasn't until my first rounds of student-teaching observations and later in my first year teaching when I realized that I could know my textbooks cover and cover, and I still not know what to do with a pissed off teenager.  Maybe Maslow and Bloom would do a better job than I would the first time around, but no one can say for real.

Looking into Preiss' shop from his classroom, reminds me so much of how important it is to be in the moment of learning.  At 5:15 p.m. on a Monday, there are seven students working in the shop with Preiss, Dilossi, Simon, and Mark.  Mark is a self-employed specialist of the GTM.  He started working with the team a week ago. He fits right in.  He works well with the students in explaining the steps for the kit car.  Every now and then you hear, "shut up, shut up" from the students, which is a good thing.

These students are in the ideal situation.  They are learning something in theory and actually seeing how it works in practice.  Sometimes, I would find myself cringe reading the best practices of the classroom.  It just wouldn't work in reality.  Middle school and high school are the most difficult part of one's upbringing.  There is absolutely no textbook that contains all the right material.  You can't find the answers unless you are actually in the moment.

Within minutes, the students working in the shop confront problems and delays in putting together the GTM.  Poor Justin Clarke, he hurt his finger.  Justin Carter had to measure and remeasure the headlight and nose of the car.  Daniel is remodeling the harness for the Ford.

"I have completely assembled both headlights and started working on mounting them on the nose.  I had to think of different ways of tearing  the fiberglass on the frame of the car to fit the molds of the headlights.  I broke it.  I broke one screw on the corner when I was drilling.  Luckily, three screws would be enough to hold the frame in place. So I lucked up on that end." -from Justin Carter

Despite the setbacks, they are accomplishing a lot.  It is amazing to see what they did to the GTM just within the last week.  You know it is a good day when the shop smells like a campfire from the welding.  More parts are needed to order.  More wrenchs are needed for harnassing.  More hours are needed to prove theories wrong.

Ride or Die

Ms. R


Working Hard for the Weekend

As of January 4, the team and I are working in the shop to finish the EVX GT kit car for the Philadelphia Car Show. We are pushing it to the deadline.

My job, as the leader of the mechanical team, is to begin building and putting together the doors for our car.  When I am done, I will attach them to the frame, but as of now, I still have to install all of the components into the interior of the door and panel.  Sometimes, the shop smells like it is on fire from all the welding.  Sometimes, I actually think it is.

For the rest of my teammates, their job is to place and center the electric motor in the right position of the GT frame.  I hope they do not drop it.  As soon as that is done, the diesel engine has to put together with the transmission and mounted in the car.  That is the most time consuming task, because if anything is out of line or inverted, it will not work.

The most consistent problem is the debate on the color of the car.  We didn’t have that much difficult picking out the size of the radiator exhaust fan or engine coolant, but this is way more serious.  Many of my peers want the school colors (I could care less about that) and others would like a sleek black car.  I am still undecided.

It may sound like a whole lot, but February is so close.  We have to have both cars running and ready for action by February 1st.  All of this is a lot, but are essential to getting to “VICTORY!”  We are on our way, and we can do so well.  I did not leave the shop on Tuesday and Thursday until 7 p.m.  We still have a lot to accomplish, but we have motivation from our teachers and instructors.  We will have no problem finishing the car.

Ride or Die


UAW visits Auto Academy

Last month, Ron Gettlefinger, President of the UAW came to the Auto Academy and visited the West Philly Hybrid X Team. For those of you who don't know this abbreviation, UAW stands for the United Auto Workers. The whole name of this union is the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. But mostly, they are known as the UAW, and their members build cars.

During Mr. Gettelfinger’s visit, four members of the team gave excellent speeches about our history and our current projects. We explained that we have created a business plan to build 10,000 hybrid cars a year in Philadelphia when we win the Progressive Automotive X Prize.

He told us a little about what it is that he does and how much he liked and enjoyed hearing about what we were doing. He also read us a letter from the UAW and presented us with a very generous donation in the sum of $10,000.

After our little classroom meeting and Q & A session, we headed out into the shop where Mr. Priess, Mr. Hauger and various students explained to Mr. Gettelfinger and other union officials about our entries in the Progressive Automotive X Prize competition. We laughed and had a good time while he was there and we even took a team photo with him.

We will be looking for the UAW to visit us again when we win the X Prize. Thank you UAW!


Cheese Whiz on Fries

Today is Saturday, January 2, 2010.  Happy New Year!  We hope you have a safe and wonderful New Year!  Simon, Daniel, Sekou, Justin Carter, and myself are at West.  Goals for today are to test the Ford Focus engine and catch up on paperwork.  The men arrived around 9, and I slowly trickled in around 11.

Sekou and Daniel were building a post for the engine for the Focus.  Justin and Haug were making a motor mount for the GT.  "Ms. R, we are trying to get this engine cranked up," said Daniel about Ford Focus engine.  Sekou hopes that it doesn't blow up.  If it does blow up, we may not have school on Monday.

Right now, the men are enjoying cheeseburgers and cheese whiz on their fries.  Amazing.  Teenage boys and their metabolism.  And Hauger is eating the same.

Seriously, what an amazing combination.  Cheese Whiz, salt, pepper, and ketchup on fries.  But nothing on the cheeseburger.  This lunch is sponsored by Penn Pizza on 48th and Spruce.  It is high quality and high in cholesterol.

These boys are just vacuum cleaners.  It is so funny to see them watch and just devour their food.  Their conversation must be the most disgusting conversation in the history of the world.  Sekou talks about all the horrible things his dog ate over the years.  Of course, everyone joins in with other stories.  I am very passive in this conversation.  I only had cats.

According to rule, you shouldn't feed teenagers until the very last possible minute or very little work will get done.  With only two more hours left in the shop, lunch was critical.

I hope you one day experience cheese whiz, salt, pepper, and ketchup on fries sitting in a shop on a Saturday with friends.

Ride or Die

Ms. R


When old is better than new

When old is better than new.

I’m an oldhead.  No doubt about it. I’m the oldest member of the West Philly Hybrid X Team by many years. However, when you hang around teenagers every day you learn some new things. I text, although never while driving. I am on Facebook, although I don’t play any games. I even know what LMAO is. I do it often. I work with teenagers.

That brings me to my story about Sekou Kamara. Sekou is a senior. I’ve told Mrs. Cruz, the West Philadelphia High School Principal, that if she ever needs any work done in the office, she should call Sekou. It’s true.  If we need the shop cleaned at 6:00 AM, Sekou will arrive at 5:45. If there are 50 boxes of text books to move, Sekou’s the man.

When visitors come to the shop and we need someone to explain the technology, Sekou is the best tour guide. By the way, (I recently learned that this can be expressed as BTW) he was a full time intern for SEPTA this summer working on the rail side.  Over the summer Sekou acquired a whole new body of knowledge about electricity.

During our team building workshop, Sekou was the most engaged and insightful team member.

However, if you are looking for Sekou at 3:00 PM for our regular Tuesday meeting, he won’t be there. Why? He is attending credit recovery, making up classes that he failed last semester. I truly don’t understand it.

I told Sekou he is an enigma. He didn’t know what an enigma is. I consulted with Ms. R. because she is an English teacher. I think the correct new definition of enigma is WTF. Sekou, who is also on Facebook, understood.

Ride or Die!


Eagles Game Last Sunday

Good morning.  I hope you are sleeping in because I am not.  I am at school on a Saturday.  You are not.  I didn’t feel like come. But I did arrive on time. Today, we had a guest with us to talk about our goals for the team.  Her name is Helen.  She very nice, and she took time out of her Saturday to come to our school. She helped us with our thoughts about the car and how we run the meetings.

Last Sunday,  I went to the EAGLES GAME!!!!!!  E-A-G-L-E-S!!!!  They were playing the Redskins.  They wanted to give us a jersey before halftime for our work on the car.  I so was excited. I sat in section 124, row seven, set number 27.  That is how excited I was.  I can still remember the seat number.  Ms. R sat next to me and a Redskin fan sat left of me.  People were cursing because the Eagles were not playing well.  I was nervous for that Redskins fan.  Luckily, the Eagles won.

My teammates Azeem and Karysma went to the field and took pictures. We got a customized Eagles jersey that said West Philly Hybrid X Team.


Breakfast club

First I would like to give a shout out to Ms. Bhatt who graciously allowed me to spend the night at her place so I will be able to get school today at 9 a.m.  Saturday school is amazing.  Seriously, it is going really well.  Helen, who works at Phildelphia Academies, did an amazing job running a workshop to get us think about what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.  It is hard (I think) for the students to talk freely about these things because we are in the room with them, and they really don't get many opportunities to do this.  We want them to tell us what they are thinking, because we are always telling them what we think.  I think it's good for them to know how hard Ann and Simon work.  But they have to meet us half way.  I think it is good that Helen had them talking and getting them thinking about how they can start taking more ownership.  They did a really good job.

We should go to school on Saturdays.  Seriously.  We could just do so many things.  My favorite part about all of this was how seniors not a part of the team came in for community service hours and worked so well with the EVX team.  I really liked how they were talking about everything.  Roger said that he is an aethist and then Aaron and Javonne were debating with him.  It was great.  It was really respectful.  And then the girls talked about what was going on with the school and some of the students.

They are very observant.  I was impressed by how much they pick up on things.  Seniors, when you are not yelling at them about not making deadlines, are enjoyable.

I really enjoyed this.  They work better on Saturdays.  Their speeches for Tuesday are great.  The President of the United Auto Workers is coming after school on Tuesday to hear the students speak about how we relate to green jobs.

I am looking forward to it.

Ride or Die.

And class size should be 10 students.


We go to school on Saturdays

Today is Saturday, and we have a meeting at school.  I got up late. Khaleda called me in the morning and told me to get my butt down here.  I was watched a movie last night so I sleep soooooooooooo late.  The movie was so good.  It’s called Pretty Woman.  My favorite part is at the end when Edward wanted Vivian come to New York with him, but Vivian didn’t want to become one of Edward’s girls so she said no.  The next day Edward showed up at her apartment and then they stayed together.  OMG!!  I love Richard Gere he is so great.

We met with Helen today. She works for Philadelphia Academy. She helped us to organize our meetings in a fun and effective way.  They want us to take more ownerships of the meeting.  Instead of Ann and Simon running them, we can run them.  At first, she let us introduce ourselves and use the first letter of our name to come up with an adjective. My name starts with the letter M, so I said "magnificent."  Then we played an icebreaker game. We have to ask each other a question and we can’t answer it.  I love that game even when I was kicked out at the third round.

She is a very nice person and beautiful.  We came up with few questions about what is important to building two cars. How is fun? What need to change? And why our school grades related to the team?  Jacques said: “dedication, determination, and discipline.”  Khaleda said: “great resume builder.”

I say: “to have more experience. Other people don’t have this great opportunity.”

At the end, Helen wanted us say what we liked about meeting and what we would change.  Mr. Hauger said: “people took all of his doughnuts.”  Most people said: “Not a lot of people showed up.”