WALDO — Some people just seem to be born with a passion in life. From childhood, they know what they are meant to do. Desmond “Des” Gonzalez, this year’s Waldo County Technical Center Student of the Year, is one of those people.

Des told The Republican Journal April 14 he thought he had first gotten interested in cars from playing with Hot Wheels as a little boy. “I’d always be interested in that rusty old car in the woods,” he said.

Now he is organizing a major fundraising event at Mount View High School — a car show, which he said he had dreamed about since sixth grade. The show, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the school, will be free for spectators, with a $5 charge to enter a car, truck or motorcycle. In addition, the student-run event will feature concessions, a 4-wheeler will be raffled off and returnable cans and bottles will be collected, with all proceeds going toward the senior class trip to Florida.

Des said he chose the date because Mount View is playing a double-header baseball game that day, so there will be plenty going on at the school. However, if the weather is inclement, the rain date for the car show is May 7. In addition to his organizing work for the show, Des is making trophies for the winners in various categories.

He told us the Owls Head Transportation Museum, where he volunteers to fulfill his community service graduation requirement, has been advertising the show on its Facebook page. “I love working there,” he said, and his teacher in the Tech Center auto collision program, Gilman Russell, confirmed it. Although students are only required to volunteer 40 hours of community service in their senior year to graduate, Des has already put in 97 hours. As Russell said, the senior is “really self-motivated. He always gives 110%.”

Russell nominated Des for Student of the Year. He said teachers make nominations, then get together to talk over the candidates and choose one. This year, Des was the unanimous choice. The honoree receives a plaque and a special stole to wear at graduation. This is not the first accolade for Des. He was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society as a junior.

In addition to his auto collision studies, Des is taking technical math at the Tech Center, for which he gets college credit, and an English class through the University of Maine. He said he loves playing the clarinet in the school band.

Russell said besides being a good student, Des is very compassionate. For example, he said, when the Tech Center stopped requiring students and staff to wear masks, Des reminded his fellow students that some of their classmates might not be ready to take them off, and that each person should be allowed to do what was comfortable for them without judgment.

Des is a leader among the students and has their respect, Russell said. He has also been an ambassador for the Tech Center, giving tours to younger students when they come to visit and making presentations before the school board.

With other students, Des is helping convert an old school bus into a combination food truck/mobile classroom. Culinary arts students will prepare food on the bus and sell it at sports events to raise money, and the classroom part of the bus will be used to help publicize the Tech Center’s programs, Russell said.

After graduation, he plans to attend University of Maine at Machias, majoring in business and entrepreneurial studies and minoring in art. It is the artistry of car restoration and doing custom work that Des really loves, he said. He works part-time at English Auto USA in Searsport, which specializes in vintage British sports cars. “I’ve learned a huge amount from working there.”

Des is already putting into action his plan for a business selling exotic and classic cars and doing custom restorations. For now, he works out of his parents’ driveway in Montville, but this summer he plans to build a small garage at his parents’ camp near where he will be going to college. After college, he wants to rent a garage or buy and renovate an old barn until he can afford classier premises. He will buy cars to restore from auctions of vehicles that have been in accidents, he said. Eventually, he would like to incorporate an art gallery into his business as well.

“I wanted to find a job I wouldn’t just endure and do every day,” he said.