Fast Times at West Philly High

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Debbie Morton


JUSTIN CARTER, Student, West Philadelphia High: My 9th grade year was probably the worst because I was constantly being beaten up, and you know, jumped and everything. I was pretty much an outcast, constantly in the office, like, literally every day.

There were jumpings. Somebody at the school got stabbed with a protractor. And that was, like, the first two or three weeks of school.

[Twitter #frontline]

SAMANTHA WRIGHT, Student, West Philadelphia High: Tenth grade year, I was only at school for a month, and that was just an accumulated 30 days, not even a month straight, because I had to baby-sit for my younger sister while my mom was at work.

So I missed a complete year of school. Truancy never knocked on our door, never gave us letters, never did anything.

SIMON HAUGER, Math/Science Teacher: It's disgraceful what's going on in public education in Philadelphia. In most large urban cities, 50 percent of the kids are dropping out. Almost every large urban district is dysfunctional. Philadelphia is at the highest level of dysfunction.

There was a need to engage students. The normal curriculum is boring and kids are disinterested.

[to students] Today what we're going to do is, the first thing is we're going to move the GT over here, all right? You ready? One, two, three.

So the EVX Team is an after school program. We build and design hybrid and electric vehicles. We had success the very first year. The students won the local science fair, which was a first for students from West Philadelphia High School. From there, it just organically grew.

The mission of the EVX Team this year is to be serious competitors in the Automotive X Prize. The Automotive X Prize is a $10 million competition that's invited teams from around the world to develop viable vehicles that get over 100 miles per gallon. We're the only high school in the world that's thrown our hat in the ring.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: Public service announcement! To all the other teams in the X Prize competition, you are going to lose!

SIMON HAUGER: You know, we tell kids you can do anything, and as adults, we know that there are limits. But we started to feed into it, like, Yeah, we can do anything.

[EVX Team meeting]

SIMON HAUGER, Math Teacher/VX Team Director: What's the purpose of the Progressive Automotive X Prize? Yes? Justin.

JUSTIN CARTER: To cause people to go into competition so that they can create something new and better for the environment.

SIMON HAUGER: Excellent. So we're building two cars. The significant points are they use alternative fuels. They get over 100 miles a gallon. And high school students built them, and they're being entered in this huge competition. But at the top of this, we're building cars to demonstrate that—

I was working in the lab at General Electric, and I just kind of had an epiphany that this isn't what I wanted to do with my life. There was a series of events, and I ended up feeling like I wanted to be a teacher in the city.

And what's the mission of the team?

I grew up a couple blocks from West Philadelphia High School, so yeah, the issues of the city are very near and dear to my heart.

The team ranges from all-stars in the classroom to students who really struggle. There's room for everyone, and we have all sorts of types of students. And that's one of the things I'm really proud about.

JUSTIN CARTER: Beginning of last school year, I cut every single class. I'm not even going to lie. I was just the guy that showed up when I wanted to show up. My life wasn't going the way I expected it to, so if nobody was going to care, why should I?

EMMA EARLE, Justin's Mother: I truly believe that without the EVX Team, I don't know if he would've been able to survive the 11th and 12th grade years in public school.

JUSTIN CARTER: You're going to want to put some oil in the car.

EMMA EARLE: What about trans?

The EVX Team was a saving grace for him. They basically blanketed him with attention, with understanding, and with affection. You know, they cared.

JUSTIN CARTER: My work with the EVX Team has made me want to come to school more. They gave me something to care about.

JACQUES WELLS, EVX Team Member: This is the K1 Attack. It's the pride and joy of West Philly High. We plan to do it again with our next cars, but this her— I mean, the first time I ever seen this car, it was my 9th grade year.

I remember it was, like, the first day of school. I came walking through the shop, and I didn't expect to see a race car here. And I fell in love with it then. And that's— that's why I had to join the EV Team. Like, who built this car? And they said it was built here.

As high school students, we can be innovative. We can be just as innovative as the CEOs of Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan. We can be just as innovative as them, and we don't even have diplomas yet.

WILLIAM WELLS, Jacques' Father: Yo! I'm home.

You know, I don't want my children to do the job that I'm doing. I want them to have better because they are better than me and I know they're better than me. So therefore, my job is just— just to give them the umbrella, you know, to grow, to do whatever you want to do.

What's up? What's up? What's up? What's up? What's up?

JENNELLYN WELLS, Jacques' Mother: This is Jacques as a little guy. And as you'll see, quite a few of the awards that he has received— the Ford Motor Company, Student Auto Skills, the West Philadelphia Hybrid X Team, Honor Roll, Mathlete. He's Student of the Month.

WILLIAM WELLS: Jacques just started running— he started running with it. And it was— it was— it was, like, he became a leader without knowing he was a leader, which is a great thing.

To be honest, the things that he's doing is making me— actually, inspires me in a lot of ways. It's taught me how not to give up, to be a fighter. Don't give up, no matter what happens. Don't give up. And I love him for that, you know? Love him for that. Yeah, I love him for that.

JACQUES WELLS: All right, I'll see you, Dad.

WILLIAM WELLS: All right. Be good, man.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: Usually, it tends to be the oddballs and the smart ones who drift towards the team because of the opportunities they offer, so that's why the EVX Team is filled with a bunch of odd guys and smart people.

I went back to school, and essentially, they put me in remedial classes because of my absences. One day, while getting bored of these, you know, multiplying fraction worksheets, I cut class and I saw Hauger in the hallway. And Hauger's, like, "What the hell are you doing in here?" It's like, "Well, they put me in OPP." He shook his head and was, like, "You know what? Come to Auto after school, and I want to talk to you."

Hauger that day changed my roster to put me back into Auto and— on the conditions that, one, I pass my classes, and two, I join the EV Team.

You know what? That's the crappiest tape job I've ever seen.

AZEEM HILL, EVX Team Member: You're all fired. Get out of here. [laughter]

MAURICE WILLIAMS, EVX Team Mentor: She was a student who was on the verge of literally failing. And we brought her over here, sort of adopted her into the family. And then, you know, we realized that Samantha was a bright young lady who just needed support and a group of caring adults around her to really help her find her way.

To see Samantha go from failing grades to a student who made the Honor Roll is— is hard to really capture into words.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: I'd say they believed in me, essentially. And that's changed my life because if I would've continued in West, I would've totally, completely dropped out because I wasn't learning in the classes they had me in.

SIMON HAUGER: Intelligence is exhibited in so many different ways. Students need to be engaged in different ways.

We're entering two vehicles in the X Prize. We're under a really tight timeline, where we have one year to get these cars built and track-ready. It's a tall order.

SEKOU KAMARA, EVX Team Member: The GTM is just basically our fun car, you know, the cool car that people will love to drive. But it's a hybrid, so it's, like, a double bonus. Basically, we put more of the young people's point of view inside the car.

JACQUES WELLS: The GTM, I mean, zero to 60 in under 5 seconds, you know, top speeds of about 180, 250 horsepower. I don't think there's any other hybrids with statistics like that.

JACQUES WELLS: The Focus, the family car that we're entering in the competition, it's probably the only Ford Focus with a motorcycle engine in it. It's a motor— it's a "Harley Hybrid," as some people call it. We have a Harley Davidson engine in it and an electric motor.

ANN COHEN, EVX Team Manager: Simon is— he's completely crazy. There is nothing that he thinks we can't do. I mean, who the hell else would've thought of using a Harley Davidson engine and a magnetic clutch from a combine coupled to an electric motor? The answer to that question is no one.

RON PREISS, EVX Team Instructor: This is the original engine that Ford put in this car. We're going to get rid of all this weight and all this spaghetti and everything else. And this is what we're going to put back in. We're going to use an electric motor. We're going to hook up that gasoline engine. And the two of them together will give us unbelievable efficiency. And not only that, but the car will run extremely clean.

SIMON HAUGER: This might even be more ghetto than usual. We found milk crates. I think we're going to build the prototype battery box out of milk crates, so it's a new low for us.

JUSTIN CARTER: So we have to get everything in the car, the battery packs, make sure the motors are running, just to make sure that we can test it out before the competition.

SIMON HAUGER: There's a little mathematical formula that tells us how much current this is going to put out. It's going to put out as much as it can.

RON PREISS: We've got to be very careful in how we assemble this battery pack because once we put a few batteries together and hook them together, there's enough voltage there to actually kill somebody.

SIMON HAUGER: We don't have million-dollar computers and run CAD software simulations. We don't have 70 engineers like Cornell University, and you can assign 20 this and 20 that.

JERRY DILOSSI, EVX Team Instructor: We have chalkboards. We have pencils, paper. [crosstalk] We have grinders, we have torches—

STUDENT: And whiteboards that don't work.

JERRY DILOSSI: How we doing, son?

SIMON HAUGER: I'm competitive, but I'm not that competitive. You know, there's some people that just— they're super-competitive, and that's not what drives me. What drives me is— it's going to sound really corny. What drives me is I love kids. I love working with kids and I believe in them.

AZEEM HILL: Oh, is everything already connected? Oh!

SIMON HAUGER: If you can power that up?

AZEEM HILL: Today, we're connecting the batteries to the electric motor, after working on it for weeks, which is just really exciting.

SIMON HAUGER: Azeem is on the emergency "turn off" switch. So if we have a problem, he's going to turn off the power.

AZEEM HILL: I've got Hauger's life in my hands! [laughter]

It's a really incomparable feeling. When I connect the battery pack to the motor, I feel like I'm giving our car life.

Hauger's one of those people, like, especially coming up from how I came up, dealing with the school system and dealing with just people trying to save, you know, us, you know, troubled people— I feel like— you know what I'm saying? Like, people who treat, like, urban youth in these bad schools is, like, these kids who need to be saved.

Hauger would never, you know, treat me like that. He'd never treat anybody like that. He'd treat us like— like, "You're"— like, "I already know what you can do. So do it."

Ten Months Until The Competition

SIMON HAUGER: See, here's the problem. We have to move this many inches, and the bearing block—

Connecting the Harley Davidson to our electric motor is critical. It's actually a quite complicated engineering feat that we're pulling off.

RON PREISS: Tuesday, we started to put this together. We ran into a problem mounting them exactly straight. They have to be a perfect match together. If they're off just a little bit, the vibration will just self-destruct the whole— the whole power train.

[ Watch on line]

JERRY DILOSSI: Do you want to give it a shot to see if it'll turn? Simon, just take a peek at it. I like it. And away she goes! Simon, look at that. Not as bad. Film that, fellas! Film that, fellas! That's not bad! [laughter]

SIMON HAUGER: We made really good progress. We got the electric motor and the Harley Davidson engine and the whole hybrid drive chain together. We got the shafts lined up better. We had made some adjustments. We still have a few more things to machine so that we can get them perfect, but it— it actually ran a little better than we expected.

RON PREISS: The mayor's coming today.

ANN COHEN: Oh, thank you so much for coming. We're, like, very, very excited about you being here.

Mayor MICHAEL NUTTER, Philadelphia: How do you build a car? This is how you build a car? OK. So I should read this tonight?

SIMON HAUGER: For all the accolades we've received around the technology, what we would really like to see this work be celebrated for is the power it has in education. And that's our dream.

We hope that we get an opportunity to run a school like this, that's project-based, that's not satisfied with 50 percent of the kids dropping out but see graduation rates of 90-plus percent. The students that have come through this program have gone on to do great things.

NEWSCASTER: [NBC "Today"] Now a group of high schoolers who are setting out to prove that it doesn't take an automotive giant to build a fuel-efficient car.

SIMON HAUGER: It's $10 million, you know, and you throw that together with urban high school students, and that put us in the national spotlight.

JACQUES WELLS: Anyone can do anything if you put your mind to it.

JENNA BUSH: Are you worried about the competition at all, guys?


AZEEM HILL: It was one of those "this is it" moments. The national attention that we got from that was really, I think, humbling because it wasn't like we're going to win from getting that. Like, we got to work even harder. So, like, now we have to prove ourselves to the rest of the country that we're going to win.

Five months until the competition

RON PREISS: Both of these cars need to run today. Both of these cars, we have to get emission data today. It has to be turned in to the X Prize Foundation. And if we don't do— get that done, we could very possibly be knocked out of the competition.

ANN COHEN: Everybody is exhausted. The kids are exhausted. The staff is exhausted.

RON PREISS: Tensions are as high as they could get right now because this car hasn't— this car— we've seen the wheels turn, but we've never actually rolled the car down the street.

SIMON HAUGER: Why do we have voltage here? Time out.

RON PREISS: Right now, we're having some electrical issues and some programming issues.

JERRY PERESE, Drexel University Volunteer: Do it again. You guys, clear.

STUDENT: Nothing.

SIMON HAUGER: I quite often feel like we can't do this. I feel like we're in over our heads.

Our battery's dead. Friggin' crap!



I have bad days where I wonder what I got this team involved in.

All right. So try the black one.

JERRY PERESE: Yeah, .35. Yeah, that's the one.

SIMON HAUGER: Sorry, we got them backwards.

There's a lot of stress and anxiety today, and then relief. We just got in under the wire. And it's exciting.

Leaving for the competition

AZEEM HILL: We have all this back-up stuff just in case something goes wrong. We have lots of tires, lots of tool parts, lots of things I'm not even used to looking at. It's exciting.

STUDENT: All right, everybody, all aboard!

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: I'm pretty excited. I'm not looking forward to the 10-hour car ride, I have to say, but I guess it'll be pretty fun, jokes and whatnot in the van.

OK, so now we're, like, 15 minutes past the leave time.

SEKOU KAMARA: A Charleston Chew. Babe Ruths all the way! Woo-hoo! Tasty Kakes! Tasty Kakes! Give me my Tasty Kakes!

MAURICE WILLIAMS, EVX Team Mentor: I got a bunch of crazy kids that are going to be riding with me, so I don't know what to expect.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: So question. How many other young, urban African-American teens will be up there for us to socialize with?

JACQUES WELLS: I can answer that question. None! [laughter]

SIMON HAUGER: We're in the semi-finals of the competition. It's really exciting to be here. There's only 22 teams left out of 111 original teams. And so this is the best of the best.

PETER DIAMANDIS, Founder/CEO, X Prize Foundation: If you had asked me going into this competition, "Do you think a high school team, let alone an inner city high school team, could enter a viable car in the competition, let alone two cars in two different categories?" The answer would have been "No." I mean, in the dictionary where they define "underdog," they've got the EVX Team as an example.

JACQUES WELLS: Hey, aren't you guys that high school team that built those cars?

SIMON HAUGER: Justin, you can work with me on this. OK, fuel, all right? So we're going to be aware that we're soldering over fuel.

One of the things that happens when you build something, create something new, is, inevitably, we use every last moment. And so there's always the last-minute rush to tie up loose ends.

We got to switch this over. Check-off list. Let's take a quick walk through.

JACQUES WELLS: It was a very busy day. I mean, today was our first day actually been able to work on the cars in the garage. And like, as soon as we got there, they put us straight to work.

ANN COHEN, EVX Team Manager: Hey, Sam! This is your job. Take off that Cisco sticker. We're getting a different one.

NEWSCASTER: So tell us quickly— just tell us who you are.

SIMON HAUGER: I'm Simon Hauger. I'm the director of the West Philly Hybrid X Team.

NEWSCASTER: Where does your team kind of fit into all this? And how did you end up here?

SIMON HAUGER: Well, that's a long story. We've been in other competitions. And this was— it was really eye-opening to see teams that have half-billion-dollar budgets up close. So this team here, Aptera, they pulled up an 18-wheeler with their lawn chairs and their team of 50 engineers, or whatever they had.

AZEEM HILL: It's a little overwhelming because you see cars that look better than ours. You see cars that, in my opinion, don't look as good as our cars. And it really starts to sink in how this is really a global competition. So these are, like, global ideas coming, you know, together.

Team Aptera, California
Viking 45, Western Washington University
Team K-Way Motus, Italy
Team Raceabout, Finland
Team X-Tracer, Switzerland
Team Edison2, Virginia

JACQUES WELLS: It was pretty interesting to see, like, the different designs of all of the cars from around the world, I mean, and to just be competing against all of these companies with great names, it's, like— it's an honor, really because you know, these guys are, like— like, geniuses with, like, engineering degrees.

JACQUES WELLS: About how much does this car weigh?

EDISON 2 GUY: It went through check at 711 pounds.

JACQUES WELLS: Seven hundred? So is this with or without the motor?

EDISON2 GUY: With the engine.

OLIVER KUTTNER, Owner, Team Edison2: You can push this car with your thumb. And that's the really crazy thing. So if I can push it with my thumb, it doesn't take a lot of power to move. So the idea behind the car is make it really light and really aerodynamically efficient because that's really only way you can make a car efficient.

SIMON HAUGER: Oliver stopped by. He's the founder of the Edison2 team. He had an automotive teacher in high school that changed his life and— and so the work that we're doing, the real work that we're doing around education, really resonates with him.

OLIVER KUTTNER: As an immigrant child at age 14, not really knowing how to speak English, I started to spend my afternoons in the automotive shop of my high school. And that's where I learned a lot.

I think the fact that this high school is competing is really great. They have an interesting approach, and I'm curious to see how they perform. And it's very commendable. It's very cool.

JERRY DILOSSI: Simon, Simon, give me five!

PETER DIAMANDIS, Founder/CEO, X Prize Foundation: We've decided in the design of the competition to have what we call a Knock Out Stage, where we're asking the teams get to at least 67 miles per gallon equivalent. So we're— we're narrowing the field.

[ More on the X Prize]

JUSTIN CARTER: We haven't had enough time to test our cars. We're going to be testing against their standards now. This is where we are, this is where we're going. And we're going to ace it.

DEBBIE MORTON, Producer: You doing good?

JACQUES WELLS: Certainly exhausted, but yeah, I'm super-excited!

SIMON HAUGER: We're testing the range and the fuel economy of the vehicle.

MAURICE WILLIAMS: We have to do 100 miles and get the 67 miles per gallon ratio in order for us to move to the next stage, so keep your fingers crossed.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: It's pretty cool to see them rolling around the track after you've spent hours putting on engines and all of that stuff, to actually see them go around as fast as they're going.

*ANN COHEN: 2:15. All right, so he's right on, that one.

SIMON HAUGER: It looks like a huge storm is rolling in, and I think even there's a tornado warning somebody said. So you know, there's— folks are a little bit nervous right now.

DEBBIE MORTON: So a little tense right now?

OLIVER KUTTNER: Yeah, I am. And I also don't like lightning. I mean, did you see this? We have the silver-topped cars. I might add they're carbon fiber, which is highly conductive. It's not an— it's not an impossibility that the thing gets nailed.

I think they should call it off. I mean, there was two lightning strikes just there.

SIMON HAUGER: I was on the track as the storm was rolling in. They called us off. We're still not sure what they're going to do today and we'll just have to wait and see.

RON PREISS: They don't play around here. They move everybody very fast, get everybody inside quickly and out of here.

*OFFICIAL: Drive the vehicle!

SIMON HAUGER: So they've taken all the cars off the track. We're just plugging in the cars to charge overnight, and we're going to go back to the hotel room. We're exhausted. You know, hopefully, the storm won't cause us any major problems. But we'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

Day 2

JERRY DILOSSI: All right, turn the key on. And then the high voltage?

MAURICE WILLIAMS: Looks like the engine's not turning over manually the way we want it to, so we got to do some quick thinking here.

SIMON HAUGER: Right now, the GT's battery pack's not working. We really don't know what's going on.

JERRY DILOSSI: I can start this while I'm rolling.

MAURICE WILLIAMS: We decided, "Hey, let's pop the clutch. Let's just— let's push it as hard as we can to pop the clutch because we got to get it onto the track. We don't have a second chance. So we're going to get to pushing.

JACQUES WELLS: Right now, we're not exactly sure what's going on. But the GTM just started its second run, second urban efficiency run, and there's no voltage to the battery. So right now, we're running on diesel power. And we're just trying to see how it works out. Here it comes around the track right now.

MAURICE WILLIAMS: I'll get Ronnie.

JERRY DILOSSI: He's not picking up his damn phone. Ronnie! Ron! Five laps, shut it off. Five laps. Five laps, shut it off.

STUDENT: How is this going to work, though, if the diesel's only going to push it five laps and then he got to turn that motor off?

JACQUES WELLS: I don't know.

AZEEM HILL: What's up with this black smoke?

JACQUES WELLS: I don't know. I mean, back at school, they said that black smoke could be grounds for disqualification. We'll just have to see what they say. And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, they'll let us deal with it, it's a problem that they'll let us fix.


MAURICE WILLIAMS: Looks like she switched over to electricity with no problem. So that's a great sign.

SIMON HAUGER: We either make it or we won't. There's not— there's nothing in between, so— so hopefully, by the end of the day, we still have two cars in the competition, but it's a real possibility that we don't.

JACQUES WELLS: Right now, everybody's nervous because we're not exactly sure if the cars will pass, but we're praying on it, though.

STUDENT: I tried to— our charger is sucking more juice.

ANN COHEN: We ran the last event without a full charge on our batteries, which meant that we ran less on electric and more on the Harley, which meant that our efficiency would drop.

SIMON HAUGER: We're starting to see this level of competition is— is tough. And we're finding some flaws in our cars. And the storm exposed the weakness.

ANN COHEN: We thought that the reason that we did not have a full charge was because of a tornado warning. The truth is we had lost our power due to inefficiencies in our whole charging setup.

SIMON HAUGER: Everybody's said that. The drive cycle is— every team's saying that the drive cycle's way tougher than anything they've ever done.

RON PREISS: Well, Simon and Ann just walked away with some of the officials from the Progressive X Prize, and I'm not sure if I should be happy about it or worried about it.

JUSTIN CARTER: I'm really on edge. We're optimistic. We're here. We're going to do what we can, and that's all we can do.

AZEEM HILL: You realize how it's always been win or lose, and you just stick to hope and prayers. And you hope that you'll get through.

SIMON HAUGER: I feel like I'm going to the principal's office. My stomach's just got knots in it. [laughter]

1st OFFICIAL: You guys have done an amazing job. You're just absolutely so driven and passionate and working to do the best that you possibly can, and you did an amazing job. Unfortunately, the numbers that you achieved from the GT—


1st OFFICIAL: You were required to hit a 67, and you got a 53.5, which is great. This one, required to get a 67, and you got 65.1.

2nd OFFICIAL: From the technical standpoint, I just want to commend you for everything you've done documentation-wise, preparation of everything.

You wouldn't be here if you hadn't done and you did a much better job than the majority of the people in the competition on the way you've presented your documentation and presented yourselves and your vehicles. And you need to be commended for that, as well. It's just outstanding. And it's been a pleasure to deal with you on the technical side because of that.

SIMON HAUGER: There's a lot of disappointment. We saw ourselves being contenders in the final— final stage, and unfortunately, we're— we're not going to be there.

SAMANTHA WRIGHT: I feel like we've come this far, beat out multi-million-dollar corporations. And so, if we can do this, this far, I mean, we can do anything.

AZEEM HILL: It sucks. I really wanted to win the X Prize, you know? I wanted us to make it to the finish line.

JACQUES WELLS: People still know who we are. People know that West Philadelphia High School can be innovative as, you know, a group of students from West Philadelphia. So it really doesn't matter to me. We still won. As far as I'm concerned, we're still victorious.

JUSTIN CARTER: Oh, I'm not so happy. But either way you look at it, we've still come a long way.

OLIVER KUTTNER: This has been really hard. And I— I have built 23 cars in my life and I have raced at the highest level you can go racing and I have earned a lot of money.

And it's overwhelming to me, but it all started when I was like you— actually, when I was you in 9th grade. And the shift happened in shop class. That's where I spent my high school. [weeps] It's true! I don't know why I'm crying! It's so overwhelming! I mean, I love what you do from my heart.

SIMON HAUGER: So we got our fuel economy data back, and as you guys know, every step of this competition is a Knock Out phase. That's why it's called Knock Out. And unfortunately, we didn't make the fuel economy on either car.

What we want to communicate to you guys is how proud we are of you. The adults are really proud of each other. We've had a wonderful time working on this project. And really, really, at the end of the day, this is an educational experience.

And every single adult here has pulled Ann and I aside and told us how impressed they are with you and what an incredible experience this is.

You know, as a teenager, you might not realize everything that you've learned. But looking back on it, you will. And so for that, we're really proud.

MAURICE WILLIAMS: Folks haven't heard the last of West Philly. You know, we still— we still got more to do. Just because we may not be in the X Prize competition until the end doesn't mean we can't continue to the end to reach that 100 miles per gallon, and then put it in front of everybody and say, "We still were able to accomplish what we set out to do."

RON PREISS: And I want to tell you something, one little, quick little blurb. You all heard me say how respect isn't given away, it's earned. Every person standing here has earned my respect, and I think that's something to be proud of, too. And I hope I've earned yours. I'm proud. I'm proud of everybody here.

TEAM: All right! We're the EVX team! West Philly ride or die!

Oliver Kuttner's car won the mainstream division of the competition.

Samantha, Azeem, Jacques and Justin all graduated from West Philadelphia High School.

In 2011, Simon opened his own project-based green technology high school. In its first year, 90 percent of seniors were accepted into college.

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