Student builds car show to send off Victoria High auto shop teacher

Grade 11 student Tony Harrington, left, and teacher Kevin Blecic, from Victoria High School, stand in front of Harrington’s 1976 Plymouth Volare Roadrunner, a car Harrington and a team of classmates in the auto-body program restored under Blecic’s supervision. Harrington organized a car show Thursday, June 20, 2019, as a thank-you to Blecic, who’s accepted a job with the school board. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Students in Victoria High School’s auto-body program said thank-you, with a car show, to teacher Kevin Blecic (front right) on Thursday, June 20, 2019, for his 15 years with the program. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board. (Photo supplied: Chris Koutougos)
Classic cars packed the parking lot behind Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20, 2019, after student Tony Harrington organized a car show to thank teacher Kevin Blecic. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board after 15 years with the school’s auto-body program. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Classic cars packed the parking lot behind Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20, 2019, after student Tony Harrington organized a car show to thank teacher Kevin Blecic. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board after 15 years with the school’s auto-body program. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Classic cars packed the parking lot behind Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20, 2019, after student Tony Harrington organized a car show to thank teacher Kevin Blecic. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board after 15 years with the school’s auto-body program. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Classic cars packed the parking lot behind Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20, 2019, after student Tony Harrington organized a car show to thank teacher Kevin Blecic. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board after 15 years with the school’s auto-body program. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Classic cars packed the parking lot behind Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20, 2019, after student Tony Harrington organized a car show to thank teacher Kevin Blecic. Blecic is moving to a job with the school board after 15 years with the school’s auto-body program. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Kevin Blecic’s students won’t let him leave without a party.

The shop teacher, who’s headed Victoria High School’s autobody program for 15 years, is moving to a job with the school board, where he’ll coordinate the district’s trades programs. His students, led by Grade 11 student Tony Harrington, organized a car show Thursday to send him off.

“It’s surreal,” Blecic, 44, said. “It’s going to be hard leaving them.”

More than a dozen classic cars packed the parking lot behind the school on Thursday. Some were cars worked on by past or current students. Others were brought in by local car enthusiasts, many of whom knew Blecic.

Harrington said he organized the event as a thank-you to the teacher.

“He needed something special. It’s like his graduation,” the 17-year-old said. “He’s amazing. I’ve never had a teacher like him.”

Harrington’s own car, a 1976 Plymouth Volare Roadrunner, was in the show. He and a team of classmates fixed up the car — which he bought for $500 in the summer after eighth grade, before he could drive — during Harrington’s first two years in the autobody program.

The program has been Harrington’s main motivator for coming to class. He’s been with the program since Grade 9 and, last year, won first place at the provincial Skills Canada competition and second place at the national event for auto refinishing.

“It’s been my drive to come to school,” he said of the program. “It doesn’t feel like being in high school.”

READ ALSO: Vic High student adds national silver medal in car painting to his B.C. title

Harrington hopes one day to own his own shop, but Blecic said he also wouldn’t mind seeing the 17-year-old leading the autobody program.

“I hope he comes back and teaches here, to be honest,” Blecic said. “He’d be fantastic.”

The teacher was grateful for the teen’s efforts.

“He wants to build this community around cars and the passion for it. You can’t teach that,” Blecic said. “I can’t say enough about him.”

Blecic’s job with the school comes to an end at the end of the month. He said he hopes his new position allows him to promote all trades and help students find a passion for what they want to do.


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