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Crowell students REACH news speeds through interactive program
Christian DeLaTorre, Pedro Zundejas and Jaime Hernandez admire Steve Bellettos racecar during their REACH workshop at Crowell Elementary School on Wednesday. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Math, Science, English and History are all still subjects in school, but students at Crowell Elementary School are able to learn about their favorite topics through an exciting, hands-on approach.

The REACH Program was recently implemented at Crowell, giving students an hour every Wednesday to participate directly in practical workshops relating to Research and Technology, Engineering, Arts, Collaboration and Health. Some courses teach the ins and outs of activities like woodworking, sign language and knitting, while others, like “NASCAR: Science of Speed,” allow students to learn about the connection between speed and energy by creating their own miniature NASCARs.

Fifth grade teacher Molly Farrar oversaw the NASCAR REACH workshop at Crowell, and pointed out the opportunities it provides for her students.

“REACH is a great program because it provides exposure and allows students to grow in areas that they might not experience in a typical school day,” said Farrar. “It’s a unique way to bring students together and create a sense of community across grade levels.”

Students in the NASCAR workshop were greeted by an exciting surprise during REACH hour on Wednesday morning when a real-life racecar appeared on the school’s campus.

Steve Belletto, a former racecar driver who has competed in races from Stockton to Phoenix, Arizona, stopped by Crowell to give the NASCAR students a lesson in racing.

Questions about the car’s speed, crashes and more rang out from the crowd of fourth, fifth and sixth graders, and the students were impressed when Belletto informed them that he has been involved in several crashes – one of which involved a 100-mph collision into a wall.

“It’s neat to see the kids enjoy racing as much as we do. That’s the biggest thing,” said Belletto. “Hopefully one day they’ll be racing.”

Students Ricardo Beterra and Aiden Almazan were among the first in their NASCAR REACH workshop to finish their miniature racecars, so the pair was able to get an early look at the Belletto’s racecar before the rest of their classmates.

“The inside of the car is just crazy,” said Beterra. “The seats are humongous and I could barely see over the wheel!”

Almazan added that their small, cardboard car, which took a few days to create, paled in comparison to the real race car in front of them.

“I like the car’s design, and all of the wires and buttons on the inside,” said Almazan. “He has a lot of sponsors, which is amazing.”

The two have enjoyed the NASCAR REACH workshop, they said.

“We like REACH because we get to choose what we want to do. They don’t choose it for us and that gives us more freedom to make school fun,” he said.