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The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School's automotive technology department, Pirate Garage, has reportedly completed their 3-month "High School Vehicle Build Program" project for the 2018-19 calendar year  — the complete customization overhaul of a 1997 Jeep Wrangler Sport.

The suped-up vehicle, gifted by Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and partially funded by money raised from a pilot program that debuted the year prior, is slated to go up for auction on July 18.

According to SYVUHS automotive technology instructor Rob Hill, out of 150 schools nationwide, SEMA chose SYVUHS as one of five high schools to participate in their second annual vehicle build program that aims to fund a sustainable project program model and provide real-world, hands-on educational experiences for students.

Launching the inaugural 2017 - 2018 year, SEMA gifted Santa Fe ECO High School's auto shop class a 2015 4WD Jeep Wrangler Unlimited along with interior and exterior accessories — provided by industry volunteers and parts manufacturers — that they then modified and auctioned off for $56,175. 

Those proceeds were used to successfully expand the program to include five high schools for the 2018-19 academic year, with SYVUHS being one of them.

“We didn’t know what to expect during our first year,” explained Zane Clark, SEMA Senior Director of Education. “But we’re encouraged and excited that we were able to expand and grow the program. We’re anxious and hoping that the community will see the positive results that came from the pilot program, and that they will come out and support the program again this year.”

The vehicles were delivered to the five participating schools in early February with a May 30 project completion deadline.

In what is being referred to as 'SEMA Week of Customs,' each of the five customized vehicles will be released onto the auction site BringaTrailer.com beginning July 15, and over five consecutive days, according to Clark, will be up for bid seven days following their respective launch date.

SYVUHS's vehicle will make its online debut on July 18, and supporters will have the opportunity to bid and purchase the 1997 Jeep Wrangler Sport until July 25.

Proceeds from vehicle sales will be reinvested into the growing high school automotive program.

For more details about the program and the vehicles, visit www.sema.org/student-builds.

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Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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