New program at J.B. Pennington

Helping dropouts by building street rod

When J.B. Pennington High School received its Alabama AYP Accountability Report, the staff was ecstatic that the graduation rate had risen for the fifth consecutive year. Now with a graduation rate of 87 percent, PHS faculty and staff know that to continue to make gains, they must be willing to do whatever it takes.

In an effort to improve the grades, attendance, and behavior of at-risk students in younger classes, a new program has been created.

Involving students enrolled in the Blount County Career Technical Center’s automotive technology program and pairing them with younger students exhibiting potential dropout characteristics, J.B. Pennington High School is building a 1923 T-bucket street rod.

“We’re hoping this project provides an exciting means for these students to get involved and represent their school in a positive way,” said Craig Sosebee, principal. He hopes this student involvement will not only keep them in school, but help them develop interests and skills and transition from high school to the post-secondary level.

The youths have visited a machine shop to observe an engine as the machine work was completed and have displayed their project at public events, such as the Oneonta Christmas parade. They have been directly involved with building the engine, suspension, brakes, bodywork, and wiring.

The Auto Tech Club is building this with the help of Marsh Auto Parts and Smiley’s Rod Shop and will raffle off the vehicle Feb. 26.