PEPPERELL -- Many graduating high school seniors leave something behind as they depart toward other enterprises. But Peter Polito and Sam Boswell took something from the past, remade it for the future and will leave it in the present.
The two recent alumni of Northern Middlesex Regional High School will roll out of town to college in the fall, after rolling out a refurbished 1992 Chevy C-1500 pickup truck.
The project was part of the school's Externship Program, for which students receive academic credit for the completion of an extensive, approved project that generally spans several months. Boswell and Polito, both 18-years-old from Pepperell, first saw the dilapidated old rig parked in a local driveway. Polito had been thinking of a way to create a backwoods buggy like some he had seen at a recent collegiate auto show. But that idea devolved due to the cost of upgrading the tires, suspension and other structural aspects.
From that disappointment arose a new and, according to Boswell, better idea.
"We changed our plans to instead make it more traditional and look true to its age," he said.
How to fund the project became the next obstacle. Under the mentorship of NMRHS Engineering teacher Erik Dellasanta, the boys lowered their expectations but raised the money. Self-funded through a combination of a GoFundMe page, a letter-writing campaign to local businesses, and raffles, they garnered enough seed money to pay the $250 purchase cost and the tow fee to a local garage, where they replaced the fuel pump.
Once word of the project worked its way through the school's grapevine, one of the teachers was also very interested. Despite falling short of their financial goal, Polito and Boswell used what revenue had been donated to upgrade the vehicle's interior, replace some engine parts, and prepare its body for a makeover. Polito, who is scheduled to attend Michigan Tech in the fall, works full time in an automotive body shop so the resources and skills necessary for the next step were in place.
Before any deal could be made or any paint-job was done, the Externship Presentation date arrived. The team showed their product, and told of the myriad ancillary obstacles it took to complete it, to the group of educators, who were impressed.
It was here that business teacher Al Barbar, who had been following the progress from the very first piston blast, made the guys an offer.
"He didn't even want a new paint job," said Boswell. "He just took it 'as is' with its sanded down areas and primer spots."
"We donated all the profit we made back to school, specifically to the STEM program and to the library. Librarian Kathy Penney was a huge help for us getting the project done," said Boswell, a National Honor Society member who first made his mark in various NMRHS sports including track.
Barbar said, "I was looking for a truck for quite a while. Then I saw this, with a V-8 engine and 5-speed transmission, and I wanted it. I turned the key and it started right up."
He bought it.
He continues to improve and tinker the old truck, hoping to drive it into the future.