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Creating a Maserpiece

Woodville ISD students and teachers with the 1951 Ford truck they restored in their automotive class.

The whir of machine tools has become a familiar sound at Woodville ISD, a small district nestled in the lush green of East Texas. The students in Jesus “Chuy” Prieto’s automotive class have put countless hours into restoring a 1951 Ford truck, transforming a battered relic into a testament of hard work and craftsmanship.

“Our students are very proud of the work they do, and I have been so impressed with watching our youngsters build their skills and confidence as they have turned a rusty truck into a showpiece,” said Lisa Meysembourg, superintendent of Woodville ISD.

Passing Down a Trade

Prieto brought 20 years of auto body shop experience and a desire to pass down his trade to his position at Woodville ISD. “He has built a program that engages and teaches our students at all the high levels of Bloom’s while they learn workforce skills,” Meysembourg said.

The complete rebuild of the Ford truck was the work of several classes over more than two school years. It was an important goal to preserve what they could from the truck, while incorporating parts from a variety of other vehicles.

“It’s like seven trucks turned into one. It’s come a long way from where it started,” said Nery Jimenez, a junior at Woodville High School. Jimenez plans to get training to become a diesel mechanic and do body work after he graduates. “It has definitely influenced me a lot to where I want to be in the future,” he said.

Creating Art

That was the whole idea for Prieto. He wanted to inspire students to learn how to custom build automobiles, not just repair them. “It’s not just building a car,” Prieto said. “It’s like building a sculpture. So, it’s an art form.”

The students learned how to use a wide variety of power tools and developed skills in welding, electrical work, mechanics, engineering, body painting, and project management. They practiced by first refurbishing bicycles before they put their unique skills to the test on the 1951 Ford.

The finished product was not only a piece of art but also a tangible symbol of and the worth of working together, honing a craft, and pursuing a passion.

“Learning this trade, no one can ever take that away from you,” Prieto said. “The knowledge goes with you everywhere you go.”

Photo: Woodville ISD students and their teachers proudly showed off their hard work. From left to right, Angela Harris, Jesus “Chuy” Prieto, Nery Jimenez, Ethan Jacobs, and Brandon Bonin.

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Beth Griesmer
Senior Communications Specialist

Beth Griesmer is a senior communications specialist for TASB.