Electric Dreams Published

New book recounts triumph of Northampton EV team

Published: 21-Mar-2004

lass=storydetail align=left>JACKSON - It is a story of a educator from California transplanted to North Carolina, an idealistic auto shop teacher and a school of students eager to test their mettle against some of the most technologically advanced schools on the East Coast.

It is no work of fiction but a story that happened in the Roanoke Valley at Northampton County High School-East.

Written by Carol Kettlewell and published by Carroll & Graf, "Electric Dreams" is the story of the Northampton County-East electric vehicle team, which produced an EV car that surprised experts in range competition and racing in 1993.

"It's well written," said Harold Miller, the East auto shop teacher now retired, who figures prominently in the 290-page book. "I learned a lot."

Miller said Kettlewell, the author of "Skin Game" and a series of anthologies, researched the book well. "I learned a lot about the different people involved."

Miller said the book is an in-depth character study of each person in the school and the community. "She writes no fiction. All true stories. It makes you appreciate the quality of students we have in school. We've really got the cream of the crop."

The book tells about the community support of the EV team and its goal to excel in the first EV event for schools at the Richmond International Speedway in Virginia.

The school, despite competition from schools with more money and more technology, placed first in the range event with a car called "Shocker," placed third in presentation and won the overall competition by placing in every category.

Companies such as Union Camp, now International Paper, supported the program. William Hall at the NAPA auto parts store in Murfreesboro helped the team with parts. "It makes you feel good about the community," Miller said.

Since Miller and Eric Ryan, the teacher in the book, teamed up in 1993, they have gone on to other things, but the EV program at East remains strong, Miller said.

Under the leadership of Danny Johnson, "They've stepped it up a notch," Miller said.

The program at Roanoke Rapids is also improving. "Ronald Smith has got a great truck."

Miller also hopes the book, which he says is on the same inspirational level as "Seabiscuit," will call attention to the country's dependency on fuel. "The dream is still alive. If we heeded the word we wouldn't be in the oil situation we're in today."

A private signing has already been held in Northampton County, Miller said, in which several of the students in the book appeared.

This signing was held at Diamond Grove in Margarettsville as part of the Kirby Music and Literary Club's meeting.

Kettlewell met Miller and Ryan at the Children's Museum in Richmond, Va., as the two men were recruiting other schools into the electric vehicle program.

Three students, Kelly Daughtry Manning, Selena Pope and Jennifer Robbins, gave further insight into the book's story. Robbins spoke of being a part of Miller's class, noting that he never drew the line between males and females in his class.

A public book-signing is in the works.

The book is available locally at the Book Inn in Roanoke Rapids and can also be found at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.

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