A Highlands High School student who helped repair a car for a veteran is the second recipient of an award students created to recognize their peers.
Ian Norris, 17, a senior from Fawn who attends Forbes Road Career & Technology Center in Monroeville, received the “Student Spotlight” award for December, senior class president Jacob Allan said.
“This was a very strong Spotlight application,” Allan said. “It blew me away, personally.”
Helen Stewart, a retired 30-year Army veteran, received the refurbished 2016 Chrysler 200 on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Allstate Insurance in Murrysville donated the car as part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program.
Stewart, who had been deployed to Iraq, overcame homelessness caused by medical issues. She was looking forward to not waiting over an hour for a bus to get to medical appointments and the opportunity to hold a full-time job, according to Forbes Road.
Students completely refurbished the car’s exterior, interior, engine and transmission. All parts and materials were donated by several neighboring local businesses. Norris said he was mostly involved in painting the car.
“The car was pretty hammered,” he said. “It needed a lot of paint work.”
It was the third vehicle Forbes has donated through the program, through which vehicles are repaired and given to individuals and families in need of reliable transportation. Since starting in 2007, members of the National Auto Body Council have donated nearly 2,500 vehicles worth more than $36 million.
Forbes donated its first Recycled Ride in 2011 and the second in 2016, said Katie Bischak, community outreach and marketing recruiter at Forbes. Students worked on the Chrysler given to Stewart since the school got it in 2016.
Repairing a car normally takes only a few months, but, Bischak said, they had a few unusual hang-ups with the Chrysler.
“We had issues with getting parts, and also our students are only here for a few hours a day, plus all the holiday breaks added to the longer time frame,” she said.
Bischak said Forbes is interested in working on another car, “but we also need to make sure we have students to work on it, as the majority of our students have transitioned to online learning for the time being.”
Norris and Xaiver Bowman, a student from Franklin Regional, were among many students who took part in refurbishing the car over the past few years, Bischak said.
A student at Forbes for three years, Norris said he worked on Stewart’s car over the last two and a half years.
“I knew she was very happy she got the car and a week later had a job,” Norris said. “It was a real eye-opener. I was glad to be part of something like that.”
Norris said he plans to go into collision repair after high school, and is already working as a part-time apprentice at a car dealership.
“It was a good experience, especially being through a school project,” Norris said. “It got me to do a lot more things than I would normally do in school.”
Allan presents winners of the Student Spotlight award at the monthly Highlands School Board meetings. The first in November went to Kevin Gonzales, 17, a Highlands junior from Brackenridge who is letting his hair grow with plans to donate it to a charity that makes hair pieces for children.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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