Rad rides capture rebel spirit of students

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Having the confidence to be different is a difficult thing, especially for the big foot, bad haircut days of high school. Yet there are some who dare to be distinctive by finding their niche in name staking vehicles.
Senior Valentina Bezmelnitsyna went to Cool Stuff, and found a large magnet mustache. She instantly thought of her car, Pierre, and its sad lack of facial hair.
“It’s hard to be unique in high school, but I’ve accomplished that by, amongst other things, putting the ‘Stache on Pierre’s hood,” Bezmelnitsyna said. “Students drive boring Fords and Chevys, and it’s hard to remember which car is whose. But when students see Pierre, they are like ‘Yup, Valentina’s here.’”
Unfortunately, soon after, the magnet fell off the bumper, and Bezmelnitsyna found it on I-63 in two pieces with one piece missing. Bezmelnitsyna said after many tears, her father agreed to paint a real version of the mustache on the front of Pierre.
The ‘Stache, Bezmelnitsyna explained, is not just a painted black line though, nor is it just a joke. It is a daily reminder that being different is O.K. and that the push to be similar in high school is not a rule one must follow.
“Pierre ain’t just a car. Pierre is my car. He is like a person. He is my friend. In fact, he is my best friend who won’t ever leave my side. … He always wants to hang out with me and is ready to take me anywhere I want and anytime I want,” Bezmelnitsyna said. “That’s kind of silly, but I love my car.”
Like Bezmelnitsyna senior Harry Stretz considers his car more than a method of transport. Stretz explained that a car should not just be a practical commuting vehicle; it is responsible for the style in which the driver gets to his or her destination.
Stretz has found not only a unique style but also a hobby in his car, Maybelle.
“My dad and I have been working on cars since the beginning of time, or rather, as long as I could hold a wrench,” Stretz said. “Our motto is that it’s better to keep classic cars on the road than to melt them down and make new ones.”
Having the skills to fix and maintain the cars allows Stretz to change out his car more often. In Stretz’s time at RBHS he has had three cars, all of which were easily noticed when parking in the lots.
“First, the shaggin’ wagon, was a 1977 Volkswagen bus, fully equip[ped] with a sick mini-fridge and two pull out beds. My second car was a 1967 International Scout. a.k.a. ‘the safari truck,’ as some people called it, and now my MGB,” Stretz said. “In a way, these cars partially led to my nickname ‘Crazy Harry.’ People recognize me by my cars.”
Both Stretz and Bezmelnitsyna jump in the driver’s seat, refusing to take a back seat on life and making the most of their own incredible differences.
“Finding uniqueness in high school is as hard as finding a turtle with a mustache,” Bezmelnitsyna said. “Turtles are adorable, but slow. Subarus are sexy and fast. Beat that.”
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes