Thursday November 5, 2009
I started my day at my favorite spot, Metal Stock , a football field sized warehouse filled with every shape, size and type of metal you can imagine with the added endorphin releasing agents of burnt metal, dingy lighting and whirring machinery. The first time I walked in to Metal Stock, it was a religious experience. Today was no different, just a little better. After walking through the shop floor (how many OSHA regs did I violate on my journey?) I arrived at the office to pick up my order. When the woman processing my order realized I was from West Philly High School, she stopped and looked up at me. “I saw you on the Today Show last week – you guys were amazing.” She continued to say things that made me feel really good.
I didn’t think the day could get better. But it did. I made it to the shop, and began working with the kids on the hybrid drive. Mr. DiLossi’s cousin dropped off a custom machined shaft for the drive – serendipitously just when we needed it.
We work on the X Prize cars almost every day after school, but Tuesdays are our regular meeting days. There was no school on Tuesday and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky was slated to show up at 3PM so we scheduled a Team meeting. The SEPTA strike kept the writer away, but the video reporter arrived.
Just as the meeting started, the principal, and both vice principals came storming into the shop calling for me, “Hauger, Hauger”. I got a sick feeling in my stomach – I just couldn’t figure out why I was in trouble. Mrs. Cruz started saying good stuff – it took my brain a few seconds to make the adjustment and for the knots to loosen in my stomach. She explained that musician Wyclef Jean was visiting the school and would like to meet the Team and see the car. I told her that would be wonderful – the cars are right here. She wanted us to show him the “pretty” one. Of course, she meant the Hybrid Attack.
The kids were ecstatic. They pulled the Attack out and cleaned it up. Then we worked on the X Prize cars until he showed up. Since I’m not a wordsmith – I’m an engineer by training –what followed would best be described as a triple integral over a Gaussian surface. I know – that’s lame. I’m sorry. We hung out with Wyclef. He’s an off-the-charts car buff -- has a McLaren F1, a doped-out Ferrari 360 Spider, a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado and a Spiderman custom chopper built by those Orange County guys. An amazing conversation ensued. It was way cool. We shared trade secrets with his automotive engineer who’s building a super fast environmentally friendly car for Wyclef. Maybe he’ll just buy ours. We spoke to his manager – she would like to get us in a video. And then my students started spittin’ rhymes; free stylin’. For fifteen minutes they were all rapping with Wyclef. You had to see it to believe it.
I walked over to the garage door just to take it all in. Justin Carter walked over and said “Haug, this is ridiculous. This is the best day of my life. Look – Wyclef is free stylin’ with Sekou in front of our car in our shop.” I had this surreal feeling – I was fully expecting to wake up in my bed, roll over, and try to explain to my wife that I dreamt a famous rapper stopped by the shop, free styled with my students, wants to put us in his next video, I got to share our secrets with his personal car designer and the principal was being super nice to me. And oh, yeah – a newspaper video person just happened to be there to capture it all on tape. Crazy – huh?
For us religious folks, these situations are kind-of confusing. Serendipity feels more like divine intervention.
I heard a man say Jesus walks
Me, myself, I heard Jesus talks
Cause when I heard his beat
I felt Jesus voice…
It was a fast car
Every day is like the wild wild west
Some of us are bad boys
Some of us are outlawed…
In the fast car
Jump in the fast car
-- an excerpt from Wyclef Jean’s “Fast Car”
I think Wyclef Jean should buy the K-1 Attack. I think he should really buy it. I think he should buy it, put us in one of his music videos, and possibly name a song after us.
Wyclef Jean came to West Philadelphia High School today to be a part of a service project with the Sixers and Timbaland. The students who participated painted walls in the main building and some planted an urban garden. It was amazing to see these students participate in a very high energetic service project organzied by Sam Foster and the Community Schools. Little did we know that Wyclef was interested in seeing the Automotive building and the K-1 Attack. He stayed with us for almost an hour. He told us about his love for cars and his growing interest in green cars.
All of sudden, Karysma and Sekou were spittin' with Wyclef. Amazing. They were a force. Karysma and Sekou were so creative and smooth. Sekou even put Wyclef's name in his rap and then couldn't stop laughing. I think Wyclef is the most gracious person. He was at West for almost five hours. Sekou and Karysma will always remember that moment. Lucky for us, Momo and Daniel recorded it.
It was a great day. I think once you take a step back and realize what has happened just this past month with the team and the program, one needs to take a nap. I often do.
Did Tango meet up with Wyclef Jean today? No. It's a big deal. I think the students are starting to realize that what we are doing is not just about putting a car that achieves over 100 mpg on the road. It is about fostering an idea that any one can accomplish anything they want. It is about education, bettering oneself, being a capable person, and growing in success.
In short, Wyclef needs to buy our car. Everyone needs to buy Wyclef's new cd. And call it a day.
Ride or die.
Good afternoon. Ms. R is making us stay after school to blog for the website. Some reporters from Daily News are here to talk to us about our entry in the X Prize competition. Nobody told me. If somebody told me that we were going to be videotaped, than I would have worn more makeup. Momo says that I look okay. All the seniors from the service project just stormed into Mr. Preiss' classroom. They are so crazy. They painted some of the walls of the main building with Wyclef and some of the members of the Sixers team. Aaron was mad that he didn't get that many tickets to the Sixers game. Javonne was telling us about one of those Sixers players was dunking on another. Lachell videotaped Wyclef doing chin ups.
They are crazy. I am mad at Ms. R because she only allowed certain seniors to go. She said that we have to spread the love with the seniors. He is suppose to be coming over here anyway to meet us so whatever.
Besides all of this, we are really in our senior projects. Momo and I are trying to figure what are the best ways to inform teenagers about the changes about global warming. From the summer, we figured that the internet is the best way to get out our message to others. Momo and I want to put together a podcast before we go on winter break. We are not sure what it is going to be on but we know we have to keep selling our car to anyone who is interested.
Okay, time to go. Wyclef is here.
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