Sundancer prepares to hit the road


HOUSTON – The Houston Solar Race team is busy getting ready for the upcoming Winston Solar Challenge, a road race from Round Rock, Texas, to Los Angeles, Calif., in July and they have a few boxes left to mark off on their list.
The team, comprised of nine students and graduates of Houston High School, designs and constructs their own solar car to enter into the national competition and work to raise funds for their program.
The have solicited donations from businesses and individuals to assist them in their journey and have also spent hands-on time in various fundraisers to help support the program, currently selling raffle tickets for a hand-crafted swing and a donated recliner.
The program has been an extra-curricular activity of the Houston School of Science and Technology (Vocational Center) since 1994 when electricity teacher, Keith Reese, proposed building a solar car to his students.
The Houston Solar Race program gained serious attention in 2000 when they entered the Winston Solar Challenge. The team placed sixth in their first attempt and formed the cornerstone of a hugely successful program that has placed first in at least one category of national solar racing from 2001 to 2012.
This year, the team will attempt to bring home their 13th consecutive national title.
In an effort to finish up fund raising for the upcoming challenge and garner more local and area support for the solar racing program, they will be on hand at the upcoming Houston Homecoming event so the public can view the solar race car and learn more about the grass roots program.
The program’s parent committee met recently to finalize their plans for participation in Houston Homecoming.
“We’re going to continue to sell chances there and have the drawings at Homecoming,” said Michele Franklin.
The hand-crafted swing was created and donated by Bob Mixon of Cap’s Corner in Anchor and the recliner was also a donated item.
Sponsor and HHS teacher, Donna Turman, said the team will have a booth featuring the car with information about the program coming from the best source.
“The kids will be at the booth with the car,” Turman said, explaining that the students are proficient at explaining the car, the program and the goals of solar racing. “Everywhere we go, that’s their job.”
Members of the parent committee are also planning to set up a vendor booth to help finish up the fundraising efforts for this year’s trip.
To make a contribution to the program, see any solar car team member or parent at Houston Homecoming June 29 or contact Chickasaw Development Foundation at 456-2321. All donations are tax-deductible through CDF Charities.

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