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Foresthill senior discovers what drives him

By: Michelle Miller-Carl Journal News Editor
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When Matt Kramer rides down the street in his ’49 Ford pickup, he garners a lot of attention. “You get a lot of thumbs up from people on the street,” the 18-year-old said. “It’s fun to have people appreciate something you’ve worked on.” The Foresthill High School senior can be proud of the 60-year-old truck he rebuilt for his senior project, but he can also take pride in finding his calling in life — automotive repair. Kramer has been a constant fixture in the garage since grade school, when he worked on cars alongside his dad. But it when he saw a beat-up 1949 Ford pickup on a property in Foresthill a few years ago, he found his own project. “It sat in a field for 30 years. I dragged it out and completely restored it,” he said. “It’s been an ongoing project for five or six years.” He used the Ford body with an ’85 Chevy frame. The engine came from a Craigslist for-sale posting. After checking the VIN number, he found the 350-horsepower engine was from a ’66 Corvette. A decal in his back window proudly proclaims: “Built Ford tough from Chevy stuff.” Kramer has built on his knowledge by taking auto shop classes through 49er ROP, a career preparation program that connects students with real-life experiences in the field in which they are interested. Although the school supports kids with a passion for cars, Foresthill High doesn’t have an auto shop. So Kramer begins his days at 6:30 a.m. at Placer High School’s auto shop. He continues his day at Foresthill High School, where he pulls down a 3.0 GPA. Foresthill High School shop teacher James Anderson said he remembered when Kramer’s dad brought the truck into class — before Matt could even drive — to show off his ride to his buddies. “He is the poster child for someone doing something they love to do,” Anderson said. “He could do whatever he wants to do, he’s bright enough do whatever. It’s a have to ask him to leave class type thing with him, and he’s always the first one standing at the door. “This is something he wanted to do and I can see him continuing on and getting very good at it,” Anderson said. Kramer is ready to pursue his dream and is ready to graduate. “It’s about time,” he said. “I’m going to miss parts of (high school), but I’m ready to get out.” Kramer plans to attend Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento this summer to start his education to become a certified automotive technician. He hopes to get his Automotive Service Excellence Master Technician status by becoming certified in multiple types of vehicle repair. His education will focus on today’s cars, which run with complex computer systems. But he’ll always have a soft spot for the old truck he rebuilt from the ground up. “It’s my pride and joy,” he said. The Journal’s Michelle Miller-Carl can be reached at michellem@goldcountrymedia.com.