Elizabeth High School car show a success

Automotive program nets $3,308 for tools, equipment

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Hundreds of cars, trucks, tractors and motorcycles — old, new and everything in between — crammed into Elizabeth High School parking lot on Sept. 17.
 
A huge crowd of attendees came to the school to celebrate the beauty of automotive tradition and innovation for the first Elizabeth High School Car Show, planned to be an annual event going forward.
 
The school's Skills USA Club hosted the event to benefit the school's automotive program, bringing in 250 vehicles from across Elbert County, El Paso County and the greater Denver area.
 
The event raised $3,308 through various raffles, auctions and personal donations. Several companies and members throughout the Elizabeth community provided tools, gift certificates and merchandise for the raffles and auctions. The money raised from the event will go toward purchasing new tools and equipment for the school's automotive program, which launched at the beginning of the current school year.
 
“We come to car shows to pass the Saturdays,” said Steve Goeglein of Black Forest, showing a 1965 REO Semi. “I was an auto shop student when I was in school, so we wanted to come out and show or support.”
 
In addition to the plethora of vehicles, the show also hosted several vendors and booths including collision repair companies, Kubota, food trucks and representatives from college programs.
 
“The car show was a huge success, and I couldn't be more proud of the students that ran it,” said Derek Spohn, director of the Elizabeth High School automotive program. “The overwhelming support did not go unnoticed.”
 
Spohn is an experienced teacher and expert in automotive mechanics. He worked as an automotive teacher at Ponderosa High School in Parker before being asked to start a new program in Elizabeth.
 
“This is my dream, to create something first year and see it through. I am over the moon,” said Spohn. “The more programs like this, the better it is for students. Not every student is going to go to college, and technical programs can give students other opportunities.”
 
There is a lot of student interest in the auto class at Elizabeth High School. The program now has 144 students taking classes, with the total school population just under 1,000 thousand. Though the program is new, there are several active students that worked together to organize and host the successful car show.
 
“This is a completely student-run thing. Every plan, every motion,” said senior Matthew Sauter, president of the Elizabeth High School Skills USA Club. “The program is great, and we want to help make it even better.”
 
Automotive students are required to complete industry-recognized safety training. Spohn hopes to have the program accredited through the ASE Education Foundation within the next two years. Once the program is fully established, students who complete the required courses and training can leave Elizabeth High School as certified automotive mechanics, preparing them for the workforce.
 
“I'm going to be signing a contract with Ford after I graduate,” said Sauter. “Mr. Spohn got a contractor from Ford to come in and teach us the basics. As long as I'm able to get my training done this year, I've got a job right after graduation.”
 
Spohn hopes to evolve the program in a few years to offer night classes for faculty, parents and interested community members. Spohn argues that automotive maintenance is a “lost art” and hopes to spread knowledge to as many people as possible.
 
The Skills USA Club is planning to hold another car show next fall at the start of the 2023 school year. According to Spohn, the club may also hold a second car show this year in the spring.
 
The Elizabeth High School automotive class is currently taking donations of tools and equipment to help jump-start the program. Financial donations are also welcome. Due to space limitations, the program is not taking automobile donations at this time. To make a donation, please contact Derek Spohn at dspohn@esdk12.org.
Elizabeth High School, car show, Elbert County, Colorado, automotive, Skills USA Club

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