The Palmetto Academy for Learning Motorsports (PALM) Principal Avery Moore raced the school’s student-built car at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday night for a good cause.
For finishing his race, he earned $3,000 toward a scholarship to be given to one of the school’s seniors.
The students will compete for the scholarship, Moore said, by putting together a portfolio that includes such things as their grade point average, recommendations from vocational teachers and community work.
PALM is a tuition-free public high school for grades 9-12 that offers more than just the motorsports in their school’s name, Moore said.
Their four main focuses are auto collision technology, motorsports technology, welding and digital arts and graphics. Through their Technical Advanced Placement (TAP) agreement with Horry-Georgetown Technical College, PALM students can have the chance to earn college credit while still in high school.
Moore said students from PALM have gone on to auto body shops, HGTC’s welding program at its Advanced Manufacturing Center, warehouse fabrication and much more. He said some talented auto body painters can make nearly $100,000 per year.
HGTC officials say the average pay for someone who has finished the welding program is between $16-$20 per hour.
All charter schools in the district, including PALM, receive a certain amount of money each year per student based on a “primary charter school funding formula”. This year PALM received $6,495 per student, according to district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.
The new 30,000-square-foot facility on West Cox Ferry Road in Conway has been open for five months now, and can accommodate 200 students. This year 146 were enrolled, with hopes of next year hitting 190. Thirty-three seniors graduated this past Saturday.
Cheryl Gilbert’s son Thomas, this year’s salutatorian, said her new neighbor encouraged them to give the school a try.
“We moved here a month before his freshman year,” Gilbert said, as she stood waiting for the race to begin.
Thanks to that recommendation, Gilbert is going on to get his associate’s degree in machine tool technology at Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
Leslie Morris said PALM turned everything around for her teenage son.
“Regular school was not for him…it was a major ordeal. Now he’s the first one up in the morning, the first one in the car,” Morris said.
Isaac Maldonado is finishing up his junior year, and was just given the Community Champion award by Broadway Grand Prix owner Mark Lazarus for his “hard work and infectious smile”.
Maldonado proudly said Lazarus gave him a job to work at the facility this summer as well, and he has big plans to continue in the motorsports field and hopes to race his own car one day.
While Moore races, the PALM students serve as his pit crew.
MistiDawn Jewel, a sophomore, is the crew chief.
“My dad races out here…it’s like a second home,” Jewel said.
During the race she is also the “spotter”, who watches the race from a high position in the pit to keep the crew informed.
Pit crew member sophomore Jonathan Campbell was ready to work.
“She’s the spotter, so if something goes wrong, I have to be ready,” Campbell said.
Campbell, Jewel and others worked to check out the PALM car after qualifying races, putting the car up on jacks, checking tires and going through other checklist items.
Kids from ages 4-17 have a chance to learn a bit about motorsports over the summer with PALM’s 2019 Summer Kids Race Camp.
On June 21, for kids ages 4-11, PALM will host a camp from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. that includes a camp t-shirt, lunch, prizes, pictures, fun in a racecar simulator, pit crew demonstrations and go-cart races at Broadway Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach. Cost is $25.
Older students, between ages 12-17, can participate in a camp from June 24-28 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. It includes a t-shirt, photo, classes, guest speakers, pit crew demonstrations, a NASCAR Racing Experience ride, fun in a racecar simulator and lunch. Cost is $100.
To sign up, call (843) 903-6600 or pick up a form at the 826 West Cox Ferry Road location.