BY KEA YENGST
Carmel High School students are known throughout the community for their athleticism and exceptional academia, yet certain students show that same amount of excellence in situations not found within the classroom or on the courts, but instead in real-world situations that involve kindness and heroism.
After watching their grandchild Devin Wells’ magic and stand-up comedy routine at the Tularcitos Talent Show on Feb. 7, Tom and Dee Rathmanattempted to call AAA for car assistance when their vehicle wouldn’t start. Yet it was CHS junior Andrew Tarantino who decided to use his automotive skills to aid the situation and ultimately turn a moment of hopelessness into one of praise and gratitude.
“I was just on my way home after the game,” Tarantino says. “I saw them pulled over at the elementary school so I turned around and asked if they needed help.”
Prior to Tarantino’s act of kindness, the night of the incident was just like any other Friday night. With a slight leg injury, the student was driving home down Carmel Valley Road in his red 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 following a basketball win against Monterey High School. On his way, Tarantino noticed that the Rathmans were having some issues with starting their car. After one parent attempted to help them without success, the CHS junior took charge.
“I live two minutes away, so I went up to my house and came back with the jumper cables,” Tarantino says. “They’d called AAA an hour and a half before. The company said they were 30 minutes away, but never came.”
Although the Rathmans’ vehicle worked leading up to their grandchild’s performance, the car did not start up after the show’s finish at 8 p.m.
Liz Wells, a Leadership teacher and Activities Director at Carmel Middle School, recalls Tarantino’s act of kindness and how it helped her father, Tom.
“My dad is disabled so they were in the handicap spot where very few people park,” Wells says. “We lifted the hood of the car, and we discovered that one of the terminals wasn’t accessible, so we weren’t sure what to do. While my parents called AAA, all of the other cars in the parking lot left without checking to see if they were okay.”
Kurt Grahl, Tarantino’s basketball coach, praises his player for taking the initiative to help someone in need.
“The idea behind sports is more than, ‘Hey, how many points can I score?’ It’s more of seeing a greater community out there and trying to do positive things,” Grahl says. “A team sport is all about helping others for further benefit. That act of kindness represents our school, and it represents our team.”
Coincidentally, Carmel Unified School District’s “Kindness Week” started the week following the incident. This movement, created by students and teachers within the district, is intended to spread kindness around campuses through activities and kind actions. Shortly after Tarantino’s good deed, Wells had spread the news at a CMS gathering and to some CHS teachers and administration members the following Thursday.
“I think it’s a great example of a random act of kindness,” Wells says. “He is a great person who went out of his way to help others in need.”
A night of hopelessness was changed for the better after Tarantino used his automotive skills to help once-strangers in need, showing that any act of kindness, no matter how big or small, can make someone’s day.