Club revs up Shelton students’ love for cars

Joseph LaRue was able to share his love of Corvettes with his classmates.

During a meeting of Shelton Intermediate School’s (SIS) Car Club, Joseph talked about how the two-seater sports car was unveiled in 1953 by Chevrolet to compete against Ferrari, Jaguar and MG.

“There [soon] was a rumor that said the Corvette might be short-lived,” but that changed with upgrades to improve the car’s performance and handling, the seventh grader said during an oral presentation.

A milestone was reached in 1960, when more than 10,000 Corvettes were sold for the first time, Joseph said. “The Corvette soon became an iconic American car that would become a very familiar sight on the roads,” he said.

The SIS Car Club is one of dozens of elective offerings available to SIS students during a once-a-week, one-hour flex period. The sessions allow students to pursue a range of unique interests, from the yearbook to cooking, and the outdoors to choir.

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Click below to see club members checking out an older Corvette:

...and a Model T:


Having the period during the school day doesn’t force students to choose between pursuing such an activity and participating in after-school sports, explained SIS Principal Kenneth Saranich.

“We want to give our kids every opportunity to broaden their experiences and interests,” Saranich said.

Car Club was started this school year

The Car Club is new this school year and is led by technology teacher Dennis David, who is an expert on the subject. He’s written books on motor vehicles and regularly does paid work on car auction catalogs.

After Joseph’s presentation on Corvettes, David was able to point out that the Corvette’s future was secured in 1955 when Ford rolled out a competing model, a two-seater Thunderbird.

“Ford saved the Corvette,” David told students, referring to the competitive nature of the auto business.

The Car Club has about 25 members, all boys, and each week they meet to talk about, research and even sketch automobiles.

During a recent session, in addition to a few oral presentations, students drew designs for a specific kind of truck and then talked about their artwork.

One student drew a vehicle with nine exhaust pipes, which led to some lively discussion. “That might as well be called the ‘Global Warming Machine,’” joked another student.

A motivator for students

David, stressing he feels fortunate to be able to share his knowledge and love for cars with students, said the youngsters are fascinated with motor vehicles.

“With these guys, it’s cars, cars, cars,” he said. “They all love them. This means everyone pays real close attention.”

David said when students were asked to write about why they liked cars, their responses were similar to those of adults he knows in the automotive business. “It’s exactly how they think, too,” he said.

He noted students must do well in their academic classes to be able to participate in flex offerings such as the Car Club, so they serve as motivators.

On a few occasions, Car Club members have been able to check out unique vehicles brought to the SIS parking lot, including a Model T and a 1984 Corvette.

David said they may visit a car renovation shop, and Shelton car dealers could bring new models to the school in the spring.

Family connections

Youngsters were challenged to draw a car of the future during an earlier session. Student Nick Huzi drew a racing pickup truck with a souped-up, modern look and powerful engine.

Nick’s father and uncle are pickup fans. His Uncle Ken Huzi works for an antique car remodeler. “When my dad does something under the hood, he makes sure I’m involved,” he said.

“I really like cars,” Nick said. “I’m particularly interested in racing cars and pickup trucks.”

Joseph LaRue said he also helps his dad and uncle when they do mechanical work on their vehicles.

Another student, Michael Brown, gave a presentation on the Shelby, a high-performance car that has been affiliated with the Ford Mustang through the years. Shelby racing cars have reached speeds up to 193 mph.

Michael noted that the first Shelby was built in 1965. Production later stopped but then started again in 2006, and company founder Carroll Shelby died in 2012.

Michael’s father and grandfather are both big car guys, and his dad owned a car mechanic shop for a while. “I was always running around the shop with them,” he said. “My interest just grew from there.”

He now travels to car shows with his parents, checking out everything from classic cars to newer models. His favorite car is the one he gave a presentation on — the Shelby Mustang.