OUR VIEW: Lessons learned via Long Cane racing program

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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Over the weekend, we featured a story on Long Cane Middle School’s Cougar Strong Racing Team, which continues to teach students science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.

In a short timeframe, Long Cane Middle has become one of the premiere Greenpower teams in the country, as it has won the 2019 and 2020 national championships in the F24 Intermediate Modified Division.

But as great as the trophies are, it’s the only life lessons and skills acquired that make the program so special.

And although the program does bring in students interested in an automotive field, not all of them have that sort of background.

“Probably like 20% (have a background in automotive),” said Matthew Graham, who runs the program. “A lot of them have never turned a wrench. They have no idea what a socket or a ratchet is.”

Some students don’t have as much interest in the car but enjoy the marketing side. Or the tech side.

We need our local students getting prepared for the jobs of the future, for what’s going to be available when they graduate high school or college.

“The best part is when they have problems; things they have to fix and figure out during a race,” Graham said. “Two weeks ago, halfway through the race we heard a sound when they were going around the curves. Finally, the car fails and stops,” he said. “The goal is to get in as many laps as you can. They skipped their lunch break and got the car fixed for the next race and finished second place.”

Imagine that: real-life problem-solving. That’s a skill employers need in every employee — being able to solve an unexpected problem quickly. They also need employees who have the ability to be a team player and work together to solve an issue.

It’s clear these teams, including the one at Inspire Academy, are setting students up for success.  In fact, mentioning Inspire Academy, a large Greenpower race will take place March 12 in LaFayette at the Inspire Academy 400. Inspire Academy and Long Cane Middle will be among the teams competing.