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Partnership between local businesses and Santa Barbara Middle School puts students to work

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A popular student-work program put on hold during the pandemic is back.

(Courtesy: Herb Tuyay/KEYT)

If you're out and about, there's a good chance that an eighth grader handed over that coffee you recently ordered or that rental bike. It's all thanks to a partnership between local businesses and Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS).

Customers stopping in at Wheel Fun Rentals in Santa Barbara should know that a week of mechanical handiwork (25 hours) by two local students just might make their waterfront ride a little smoother.

"I think it was just a great opportunity and a fun experience," said Owen Sullivan.

"Really appreciative of Wheel Fun to allow us to come here and learn these skills," said Atticus Pihlar.

Sullivan and Pihlar are among a new generation of SBMS students, participating in the school's 40-year-strong Career Study Week program.

"They come back and they go, 'Wow, work is work, you know? I had to suit up and show up every day.’ And they come back with a bigger appreciation for what it means to be out in the world working," said Marco Andrade, an SBMS teacher.

(Left to right: SBMS teacher Marco Andrade, Owen Sullivan, Atticus Pihlar, Darren Brews, SBMS Communication Dir.)
(Courtesy: Herb Tuyay/KEYT)

Fixing surreys and city bikes was more fun than work for this team of teens. After all, SBMS is renown for incorporating long distance bike rides into the student experience. So, repairing flats and gears comes second nature.

But, they sure learned a thing or two at Wheel Fun Rentals.

"I didn't know how to fix this type of shifting, which is, when you have a belt drive, all of the shifting is internal," said Sullivan. "It was really cool to learn how to fix that and you could say, that was the hardest part for me."

"Probably similar," said Pihlar. "I find bikes to be pretty intuitive cuz you can kind of see everything on the bike and figure out how it would work."

Pihlar and Sullivan also spent a day working on electric bikes across the way.

"They came back with one that had some problems, looked at it, told me what they think they need to do, and got it working just perfect," said Chuck Drew, one of the shop's managers.

SBMS' Career Study Week includes grades sixth ninth-grade students, and different levels of business involvement. Ninth-graders do community service and work with non-profits throughout town throughout the year.

The News Channel team is cheering them all on as they cycle on into the next leg of their academic journey!

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here


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