OLATHE, Kan. — A group of Hispanic teens learning automotive skills, while building relationships with teachers and police in Olathe, it's a story 41 Action News first told in 2018.
During the three years since, the Olathe Police Department donated a used cruiser that was set to be scrapped.
Instead, the teens turned that car into a vehicle for change, bridging the gap between Hispanic students in Olathe Public Schools and the police.
The Olathe Lowrider Bike Club began nearly four years ago.
"I remember when we started this partnership, I asked the kids and they weren’t too fond of police," Erik Erazo, one of the group's mentors, said. "I asked them why.”
Instead of letting that uneasiness go unattended, Erazo and others decided to take action.
“I felt it was important to bring them together and have that discussion, so that my kids can relax when they’re out in the street and be proud of being part of this town," he said.
Students like Oswaldo “Ozzie” Polanco have worked on restoring that former Olathe police cruiser in recent year, and now it’s ready for the showroom.
The students have worked on hydraulics, fastened wires, sanded and refinished doors, lowering not only the suspension on the car but suspensions in the classroom as well.
Erazo takes pride in the fact that 100% of the students in his club have graduated from high school and gone on to college.
This year’s club isn’t just for the boys either. Marissa Scarano is not just one of the club’s newcomers, she’s the vice president.
“I was really nervous," Scarano said. "I didn’t join, because I thought it was more of a man, a boy, thing. Now that I’m in it, I’m considered one of the bros.”
The souped-up police cruiser will be on display from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday during the 3rd annual Olathe West High School Car and Bike Show. The event is in parking lot B at the high school, 2200 W. Santa Fe St. in Olathe.