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School surprises Sanborn grad with her first set of wheels

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2018 9:37PM
Sanborn Regional High School graduate Kelsey Bunker stands next to the car she received as a gift from the school. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Sanborn Regional High School automotive teachers Jack Kelly, left, and Rand Duffy explain the car that was given to graduating senior Kelsey Bunker on Friday. (Jason Schreiber)

KINGSTON — Sanborn Regional High School graduate Kelsey Bunker will now have a set of wheels to get to college thanks to a surprise gift from the school’s automotive class.

Bunker, 17, was the recipient of a white 2002 Volkswagen Jetta that was donated by 2016 graduate Dan Bartley and fixed up by about 30 automotive students who worked on the car to get it looking like new in time for Friday’s graduation.

“I was shocked. I never thought this could be me, to be honest,” the Fremont teenager said after learning that she was the winner during Friday’s Class Day award ceremony.

This is the fourth year that the school has given a car to a deserving student on graduation day.

Two of the cars were donated by automotive teacher Jack Kelly and a third was given by a retired teacher, but this was the first year that a former student decided to donate.

The cars are usually older and in need of repairs that can be done by the automotive students. It’s a way for the students to learn important skills for the class while also helping out a fellow student like Bunker, who had no idea that she was nominated for this year’s car.

“When they called my name it was surreal,” she said.

The timing couldn’t be better. Bunker will finish her driver’s education class next week and has been on the lookout for a vehicle because she’ll soon be commuting to Great Bay Community College.

“This will be my vehicle to get to college and back,” she said with a smile as she checked out the car, which was wrapped in a bow and parked in the automotive shop awaiting its new owner.

Automotive teacher Rand Duffy said some of the work performed by the students included repairs to the body, water pump and timing belt. New headlight bulbs were also installed.

“Whatever it needed. It’ll be safe and pass inspection,” he said.

The winner is a student who has shown growth and determination during the four years of high school and is picked by a faculty vote by junior and senior teachers.

“The difference between no car and a car is humongous. I don’t care if it’s a minivan. It doesn’t matter what it is. It changes their life,” Kelly said.

He said he hopes the graduation car gift program catches on and that more community members will donate for future graduating seniors. He said he would like to be able to provide cars to two deserving graduates.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s like giving somebody a birthday present. It really can change someone’s life,” Kelly said.

For more information on the program or to inquire about donating a vehicle, Kelly can be reached via email at

Education Fremont Kingston

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