Families can soon beat the summer heat with a pool party that promises kid-friendly fun while supporting local high school technical education.

The Last Splash, hosted by the Foundation for Ashley’s Dream, is 5-10 p.m. Sept. 13 at the BridgeMill Athletic Club pool, where there will be food, a silent auction, popular cover bands, and of course, swimming.

Sales from the tickets to the party will support the Sequoyah High School automotive career pathway program, in which students can take a test to qualify for National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification.

Teacher Chuck Wilson said money is needed to make renovations to the shop, including opening up a wall to connect his classroom next door, and to buy more basic tools that right now several students are sharing.

“We just need tools and equipment, and refurbishing the shop, like painting the floors and everything. The school system painted the walls. They’ve got some good ideas — they want to come in and put murals on the walls, paint it up, and get tool boxes and things like that,” he said. “They’ve been doing all the legwork; all we have to do is sell the tickets. I think it’s pretty awesome.”

The teacher said that by the end of the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education program, students can earn an ASE certification and are ready to start a job after high school.

“We try to get them to pass the test, and we teach them the hands-on skills,” Wilson said, adding that about 80% of the students pass the certification test.

Wilson also advises the school’s Hot Rodders team, which competes with students from all over the country in challenges that involve completely taking an engine apart and putting it back together. The team has ranked in Georgia’s top three and has qualified for nationals four years in a row.

Ashley’s Dream, established around 20 years ago, is named for Ashley Easterbrook, who is remembered for always helping people and volunteering in her community, though she was killed by a drunk driver just before graduating high school. The foundation has historically offered student scholarships, but more recently became involved in school automotive programs through the family’s connections in the industry — David Easterbrook is the president of AME Companies, which provides facility designs and equipment to auto dealers. They renovated a shop at a high school in Michigan, where the family lived until they moved to Cherokee County four years ago, said Adam Easterbrook, Ashley’s brother and the president of the foundation.

“Not every student is going to college; a lot are going to go to technical school. They can finish with basically no debt, they can get a job out of high school and go from there,” he said.

The Last Splash will feature food from local restaurants and other businesses like The Corner Butcher Shop and Great and Plenty. The event is non-alcoholic.

There will also be raffle items available; the biggest prize is a week-long vacation to Orlando with a stay at the Marriott Grand Vista Resort Dec. 27 to Jan. 3. Tickets are $20 each or three for $50. Ticket holders for the vacation raffle do not have to be present at the pool party to win.

While families swim in the pool, they can enjoy some live music from popular cover bands. Van Halen tribute band Running With the Devil is opening, and Slippery When Wet, a Bon Jovi tribute, is the headliner for the party.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for children. The presenting sponsor for the event is Carland Auto Group. To purchase or for more information, find The Foundation for Ashley’s Dream on Facebook.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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