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Students transform junk into a jewel

December 29, 2018

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — What was once an old, beat-up van is now a masterpiece.

For the last six months, students at the Ross Collins Career and Technical Center in Meridian have been transforming an old clunker into the van from the iconic 1980s television show “The A-Team.”

The project is one of many the students have been working on while gaining technical skills.

“A piece of junk to a jewel, I am so proud of them,” said Rob Smith, the director of the center.

To complete the rehabilitation, students watched the show, an action-adventure series about the exploits of former members of a fictitious U.S. Army Special Forces unit.

Mart Murphree, the collision instructor at Ross Collins, said the project provided students the opportunity to gain real-life skills while working together, as well as using their critical thinking skills to solve a problem.

“The only way they are going to learn is by doing it,” said Murphree.

Junior Reginald Horn said he conducted research on the internet about the show and printed out pictures, using them as a reference if he got stuck during the transformation process.

“Every time we get in a bind, we look at the pictures on the wall and get back on the page,” said Horn.

Quintarius Dean was tasked with washing the van and helping add its red stripes. He described the biggest challenge in the renovation as sanding the body, which took two months to complete.

Zachary Carter, a welding student, didn’t know he was going to be part of the project until brush guards were needed for the van. His part took a while to complete because the measurements had to be correct.

Once the van was ready to roll, the students were amazed at how well it turned out. Bryant Reynolds, a junior, said he was almost speechless, believing the actual A-Team vehicle was right in front of him.

“I was like wow — I didn’t think we could all do that as a team,” said Reynolds.

Looking ahead, the van will go into service as a recruiting tool for Ross Collins, showing other students what the center offers.

Smith, for his part, plans to keep his promise to his students by getting a mohawk and dressing like Mr. T, a character from “The A-Team” known for his unique hairstyle.

“I really wasn’t expecting it to be as pretty as it was, but it looks like I’m going to have to get a mohawk,” said Smith.

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Information from: The Meridian Star, http://www.meridianstar.com

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