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Wed, Feb. 19

At Granite Mountain Middle School <BR>...Hot rod project puts technology students in touch with the real world<BR>

A spokesman from Lamb Chevrolet, a member of Prescott's Corvette club and a few locals drove the five sleek sports cars, each of which represents the vehicle's distinct eras, into one of the school's back lots.

Seventh-graders Ben Luedtke and Ryan Carpenter were among the students on hand to film the Corvettes using three mini-cameras. Carpenter generated the idea to bring the Corvettes to GMMS, and others in the class — which has a total of 29 students — soon agreed that it was a great plan.

"Part of my technology class is teaching basic video production," said Pemberton, who has five video-editing stations and cameras at GMMS to produce live school news programs. "The seventh-graders do a video presentation on some aspect of technology, and this group decided they'd like to do it on the Vette."

Each semester, Pemberton, the school's pre-vocational education tech teacher for 13 years, allows his students to select their video topic and piece together the props. On Friday, they shot the Corvettes from several angles and highlighted the car line's history and immediate future through on-camera interviews of Corvette enthusiasts.

"Through applied technology, we reinforce what they're doing in their other classes, and bring in things they don't get anywhere else," said Pemberton, whose goal for the project is to teach group dynamics (where students split assignments), sequential learning (developing a storyboard and script), and computer applications (Internet research). "This approaches more of a career awareness."

Before filming, Pemberton and his students reviewed editing techniques that included an on-air hand-signal countdown, how to properly hold a microphone during interviews, and appropriate introductions and questions.

Charlie Bennett of Lamb Chevrolet was one of the enthusiasts the students interviewed. He brought a dark blue 2004 Corvette to the film session, a fifth-generation C-5 model — the newest of the vehicles on display.

Bennett noted that the "state-of-the-art sports car" had just 18 miles on it and featured special rails that make the car's body more durable.

The new Corvette rides on run-flat tires without a spare, meaning that if one or more of the car's tires deflate it can keep going for a limited amount of time on the road.

As an added feature, the car's speedometer is visible on the inside of the windshield, allowing a driver not to have to peer down from his gaze on the road.

Bennett, a Lamb employee for the past nine months, explained his interest in the project and the benefits of sharing Corvette knowledge with children.

"It gives me the opportunity to help the youth and to explain my trade to them a little bit," Bennett said. "Corvettes are pretty awesome cars to begin with, so it's a good way to get out and give something back to the community."

Butch Katheder, a retired local man, motored a mint condition, red-and-white 1961 model to the school. Katheder bought the car at a Pomona, Calif., swap meet in 1993. It has four taillights in the back, distinctive of that era, and sports a powerful, 230-horsepower engine.

Katheder, president of the 35-member Prescott Vette Set Club, said the car won an NCRS top-flight achievement award for its performance. In other words, it's an all-stock car with correct, original-looking parts.

Inaugurated in 2000, Katheder's club meets once a month and sponsors a car run every four weeks, typically to northern Arizona cities such as Flagstaff and Sedona. The club raised hundreds of dollars recently for "Horses with Heart," a local charity near Young's Farm in Dewey that teaches autistic children how to ride horses and improve their coordination.

"With the extra money we get from shows, donations, and dues, we donate to charity," Katheder said.

Other than the C-5 and Katheder's 1960s model, the C-1 Stingray, a C-3, and a C-4 made appearances at Friday's gathering. Katheder said that almost every Corvette model year is represented in the club.

Larry Greseth, a Prescott-area builder, shared with the students a 1974 Corvette that he has owned for three years.

"This is probably going to make them interested in the Corvettes in particular, and nice cars in general," Greseth said.

Barry Edwards brought the C-1 Stingray, a stylish-looking 1973 "Mako shark" model, to the school for the car's owner, Brennan Berg.

The rare car's streamlined appearance resembles a shark. Edwards said the only Corvette era not on hand Friday was one from its first model years, 1953-1955.

"It's nice to expose the kids to some of the finer things in life, and maybe some goals they can set for themselves as far as hobbies and mechanics," Edwards said.

Pemberton agrees, and his interest in the project hasn't wavered since its inception. The class will produce and edit a piece of film from Friday's session and burn it onto a DVD format.

Through the years, the topics and technology are sure to change, but Pemberton's students' excitement for it likely won't.

"They eat it up," Pemberton said. "They love it."

Pemberton added that when fifth-graders visit his tech class on tours they are consistently impressed with his video equipment.

"They come down into my class, look around, and the first thing they do is go, 'Ahh, who gets to use all of this stuff?' And I say, 'You do,'" he said. "Most of them take very good advantage of it."

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