Merriconeag High School Car Mechanics Class at Portland Motor Club

TWO-UNDERA group of students from the Merriconeag Waldorf High School in Freeport, Maine chose what must have been one of the coolest electives ever at a Waldorf school  — “Introduction to Auto Mechanics” taught by Portland Motor Club owner and muscle car enthusiast (and Merriconeag parent) Bill Waldron.

How did this get to be part of the Merriconeag curriculum? Waldron answers, “After a development meeting where the conversation turned to high school age kids and driving and cars, I was approached about the idea of doing a practical hands-on class about cars for the high school. I figured that some of the kids were probably like me when I was their age and might like working with engines and machines and getting their hands dirty. For me, it was the beginning of a lifelong passion. Hopefully this class really made a connection for some of them.”

The class ran eight weeks and the eight students were transported weekly back and forth from the New Gloucester, Maine high school campus to state-of-the-art Portland Motor Club facility on Presumpscot Street in Portland. The curriculum covered a lot of ground from the engine components and basic workings of the motor including the fuel system and spark plugs to wheel, tire and brake care. Students got practical experience with changing the oil, working on the brakes and even learning how to detail (professionally clean) a car’s exterior and interior. Topics related to safety and roadside emergency were also covered.

GROUP1When the students are saying things like, “class was too short” and “it’s fun to participate”, you know you’re on the right, well, road. They liked the hands-on aspect of the class, taking things apart and putting them back together, and learning useful things that will come in handy some day (on the side of the road).

If anything students would like to have had more time in class and even suggested that they’d like to “take an engine apart and put it together”. That may be a whole curriculum unto itself!

One of the most practical items learned in class? “Don’t stand under the oil filter while you unscrew it!” Good advice for us all — literally and metaphorically.

Portland Motor Club was very pleased to be able to produce this pilot program for the Merriconeag High School.

Special thanks to Yearbook Photographer Margie Ciolfi, a 9th grader in the class of 2013, who took these (and more) great photos.