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Parking Place

Students and staff members at Neuqua Valley High School were taken aback last week when they found a bright blue and gold pickup truck with "Class of 2003" emblazoned on the hood and doors sitting in the middle of their cafeteria.

Aaron Raestas, Chris Herrera, Nipun Yamdagni, and John Scherer—all seniors at the 3,250-student school in Naperville, Ill.—had spent the entire Memorial Day weekend dismantling the rusted 1984 Ford F-150 and reassembling it inside the school building in a show of senior pride.

"Basically, we tore it down to the frame," Mr. Raestas said. "We took out the engine, the transmission, both front fenders, the hood, and the radiator."

The students, who asked permission to place the Ford in the cafeteria, bought the old truck for $50, painted it with the school colors, and then spent hours removing rusted bolts from the chassis. It was laborious work, according to Mr. Raestas, who said that many of the bolts simply broke off.

Once the truck was in pieces, the seniors rolled it through the cafeteria doors. They had originally planned to lodge it on the second floor, but ran out of time after the Ford got stuck in the doorway. They had to peel the metal on the driver's side door back with a crowbar and remove a tire to get the truck inside.

How did the students persuade school administrators to let them pull off such a stunt?

"All high schools have concerns over graduation week," said Principal Kathryn Birkett, "but I really didn't see the harm in it."

The school has a strong automotive program and all of the students had experience with mechanics, she pointed out.

The truck, which was to remain in the cafeteria for a week, will be dismantled and removed before graduation.

"I think it's going to start a contest," said Mr. Raestas, 18, who plans to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago and study pre-med. "The freshmen are already thinking [about how to top it]."

—Marianne D. Hurst

Vol. 22, Issue 39, Page 3

Published in Print: June 4, 2003, as Take Note

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