Reading police officers brought their 2007 Ford Crown Victoria to Northeast Metro Tech to be worked on by automotive collision repair & refinishing students in September. Tenth grade students Erick Menjivar Mejia of Chelsea, Jorge Benavides Chavez of Revere, Andrew O’Neil of Chelsea, automotive collision repair & refinishing instructor Robert MacGregor, Juan Valasquez Restrepo of Chelsea, Luis Barillas of Chelsea, Christopher Mendez of Chelsea, Jay Martinez of Chelsea and Payten Kiley of Melrose, tackled the project, which they showcased to Segalla on Dec. 8.
“This vehicle was in serious need of some repair work, and instead of taking it to a body shop, we wanted to partner with Northeast Metro Tech to give students the opportunity to take on this task,” said Segalla. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen community relations, and we’re so pleased with how the vehicle turned out.”
Students overhauled the Crown Vic by removing dents throughout the body, clearing away rust, replacing the front fender and giving it a fresh coat of paint.
“Because these were 10th grade students who just picked their technical area of study last year, this was their first big project in automotive collision repair & refinishing,” said MacGregor. “We appreciate partnerships like what we have with the Reading Police Department because students got real experience working on a vehicle, and they were able to take their time learning the proper way to repair different areas of the Crown Vic. Plus, I think they really took pride working on a vehicle that would be used by law enforcement.”
Barillas worked on fixing a hole that had formed on the right side back door, first grinding out the rust from the area, repairing it with fiberglass and body filler, and then priming it before the whole car was painted. Kiley spent her time removing scratches and dents and later preparing the car for its new paint color.
“Since we had the car for a while, I think we all learned from our mistakes,” said Kiley. “It was a good car to start the year off with.”
Mendez focused his efforts on repairing stretched metal on the hood of the car, and said that because it was the first time the group got to work on a large-scale project, the experience was extremely worthwhile and beneficial.
“When we first started, we didn’t know how to really do any of the body work, and I think now we’re a bit more confident seeing how great the car came out,” said Mendez.