Funding their futures

Proceeds from the Wheels at Wood car show will benefit student-designed bus shelter and robotics team

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Start those engines: Wheels at Wood will feature 10 classes of cars including GM, Ford, Chrysler, British, American and motorcycles. Guests can also enjoy crafts, live music and more. Source: Kevin McLemore

The students and faculty of Archbishop Wood’s STEM program aren’t just smart. They’re pretty scrappy, too. Headed by director of STEM education Kevin McLemore, the group of high schoolers raised an unprecedented $3,500 last year at the inaugural Wheels at Wood car show. Proceeds from the fundraising event were put toward the creation of a student-designed bus shelter at the corner of York and Street roads in Warminster.

Now, they’re about to do it all again. The second annual Wheels at Wood is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14, at the school, located at 655 York Road, and is slated to feature a variety of modern and classic cars, entertainment, crafts and more. This year, the students hope to double 2017’s proceeds, which would cover the completion of the bus shelter before the cold winter months, when teens without the luxury of a car must wait in the rain and snow for a ride.

Ahead of the highly-anticipated event, The Times caught up with McLemore and a handful of his STEM students to learn how the idea for a car show was formed, and specifics on what attendees’ hard-earned money will be put toward.

According to McLemore, it was during a conversation with Monsignor Balger that the struggles of those carless students were put into perspective. Despite being a Christian-based school, members of their community were forced to face the elements, sometimes in the dark depending on the timing of their extracurricular activities.

The RoboVikings, part of the STEM department, made it their mission to help their peers, and immediately got to work designing a well-lit bus shelter that would serve as a safe, comfortable spot while they waited. However, the students quickly realized this undertaking was easier said than done. The past year has seen them overcoming a series of small but vital obstacles to make the shelter a reality. These included altering the design to make it more cost-effective, and collaborating with the board of supervisors to bring the shelter into compliance with local laws.

But after jumping over each respective hurdle with flying colors, the students are nearing the finish line. At this point, the only piece needed to complete the project is the remainder of the funding, which they hope to raise during Wheels at Wood.

The 2017 event welcomed approximately 100 cars, which included the debut showing of a luxurious Karma supercar. As a collector and car club member himself, McLemore knew a car show would be the ultimate fundraiser to draw a crowd. This year, 10 classes of cars will be featured, including GM, Ford, Chrysler, British, American and motorcycles. Even for those attendees who can’t tell one brand from another, they’re able to appreciate the shiny beauty of each vehicle, as well as crafts, live music and food.

While the majority of proceeds will be put toward the completion of the shelter, the remainder will be utilized by the RoboVikings and STEM program. According to Thom Galie, head of the robotics team, the group is entirely self-funded. As a yearly competitor in the FIRST Robotics competition, the students must find creative ways to collect $5,000 just for the registration fee. In addition, at least another $4,000 is needed to purchase materials to build two robots — one for practice, one to enter into FIRST.

Galie stressed the fact that these thousands of dollars aren’t going to waste. The RoboVikings have gone on to compete in the world championship three times in the past four years, all while learning life skills such as planning and teamwork.

McLemore and the students shared a similar sentiment in regard to the STEM program as a whole, which he implemented at Wood six years ago. Geared toward juniors and seniors, teens can choose to enroll in classes such as architecture and 3D design, engineering and applied technology, all of which work to prepare students for college and the professional world.

For example, seniors Madilyn Cain and Brian Loughlin had the chance last year to conduct a clinical trial and create Comfort Queen, a tool to help handicapped individuals wash their hair and complete basic hygienic actions. The project earned second place at a statewide student invention competition in Harrisburg, and is currently patent pending.

“Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect,” Loughlin said of his junior-level engineering class. “It’s more than tests. We’re working as professionals in the field.”

“This is the kind of thing we’re supporting,” added McLemore.

Wheels at Wood attendees will be able to see the students’ work in action as they conduct a robot demonstration. For Cain, who serves as the RoboVikings captain, it’s a thrill to show her community the importance of what she and her peers are doing in the classroom.

“Their eyes just light up,” she said. ••

If you go…

The second Wheels at Wood will take place Sunday, Oct. 14, at Archbishop Wood High School, 655 York Road, Warminster. Show cars, bikes and vendors may arrive as early as 8 a.m. The show opens to the public at 9 a.m.

Cost for cars is a charitable donation of $20 per vehicle prior to Oct. 7 and $25 after Oct. 7. Cost for craft tables is a charitable donation of $30 per table prior to Oct. 7 and $35 after Oct. 7. The first 200 cars or motorcycles registered will receive dash plaques and goodie bags.

For more information, email wheelsatwood@archwood.org. To register, visit tinyurl.com/wheelsatwood.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com