Belmont High's Solar Car Team Shines With $10K Donation

Allisons' gift will subsidize team's Texas trip and jump start building a second-generation solar-run vehicle.

Belmont High's Solar Car Team.
Belmont High's Solar Car Team.
Leon Dyer said he was "surprised" when told last week by school officials that a Belmont couple was making a financial gift to the Belmont High School Solar Car Team.

The team's leader and Chenery Middle School teacher said he was "shocked" just how much that contribution actually was.

Late Thursday, Elizabeth and Graham Allison donated $10,000 to the team which Dyer said will be used subsidizing the team's trip to the Solar Car Challenge in Texas this July and provide funding to kick-start the team's efforts to build a second-generation vehicle in the 2014-15 school year. 

Last Tuesday, the Belmont School Committee approved the team's trip to Dallas Texas in July to compete in the Solar Car Challenge

"It was surprised and grateful that someone in the community would support us in that way," Dyer told Belmont Patch Monday, Jan. 28.

This is the second substantial gift the Allison's have given to the schools recently; in 2012, they provided several thousand dollars toward the rebuilding of the Butler Playground.

"Why did we give? [The] [p]roject had many of the things we look at before giving," Liz Allison told Belmont Patch on Friday. 

"There had been a huge effort by those involved. A little like Butler Playground, where the Butler 'immediate family' had done everything they could possible do to raise money, no effort had been spared, and they just needed more," said Allison, who is the former chair of the Warrant Committee and currently on the town's Planning Board. 

Allison said that Dyer's efforts in promoting science, technology, engineering and math – known as STEM – at both the middle school and with the Solar Car team is well worth supporting. 

"It is innovative not just because solar cars are innovative but because we think STEM education is very important and we think that among innovations, the 'working knowledge' approach to STEM education is very important," said Allison.  

"It is exactly what we want to celebrate in our teachers," Allison said. 

When she heard that the team was seeking funds to bring 12 of the 21 members to the national competition – Belmont High will be the first Massachusetts participant in the event's 19 year history –  she made a call to the Belmont School Department.

"The school administration was very supportive. We thought of a more modest contribution, but Dr. [Thomas] Kingston (Belmont's School Superintendent) was very persuasive," she noted. 

Dyer said that he had spoken to Allison and she will visit the team on Friday, Jan. 31.

"We're hoping she'll be a long-time supporter," he said.


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