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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Who is behind the Walter Johnson Batmobile?

Steven+Kerr+poses+with+his+homemade+Batmobile+in+the+staff+parking+lot.+%E2%80%9CWe+should+have+more+fun+with+mundane+things%2C+Kerr+said.
Josh Hananel
Steven Kerr poses with his homemade Batmobile in the staff parking lot. “We should have more fun with mundane things,” Kerr said.

Equipped with a matte black finish, cartoonish stickers and yellow rims along with a familiar bat symbol contrasting its dark backdrop, math teacher Steven Kerr’s Batmobile is the most eye-catching car in the WJ parking lot.

Throughout the day, anyone who walks by the staff parking lot is sure to notice it (especially if Kerr honks his custom horn, which plays the original 1960s “Batman” show theme). But what is the story behind his car?

“The whole [design] cost me $17.50,” Kerr said.

What passers by first notice about the Batmobile is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously: it’s more about having fun. Instead of a tame “student driver” sticker, or even a less serious, “rookie driver” Kerr changes it up with a bright, “dookie river” sticker. All these stylistic elements of this car are unique, making his Batmobile one-of-a-kind.

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“It is especially fun to see a little kid just be like, ‘Wow… Batman.’ We all gotta laugh a little more,” Kerr said.

Describing himself as, “not even the biggest Batman fan,” Kerr’s motivation for painting his car like the Batmobile was all because of his kids. He bought the used 1996 Honda Accord nine years ago, just as a secondary vehicle, and then asked his three children how he should paint it.

“So you ask an eight-year-old, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, and my son’s the oldest, and [the car was] already kinda black, so he said, ‘let’s make it The Batmobile,” Kerr said.

Kerr, who has been teaching for over 20 years, is no stranger to modifying cars. Pairing up nicely with the Batmobile, he made a Wonder Woman logo design for the hood of his wife’s car. Before getting his Batman car, he used to live in Southeast D.C. and had an older Honda that was getting broken into a lot, so he decided to replace it and paint the new car.

“So I sold [the Honda] and then bought this crappy Toyota, and I painted zebra stripes on it, and it had eyelashes and a tail going out the back. Nobody broke into it anymore,” Kerr said.

His past experience with the “Zebra car” explains the exceptional work on his Batmobile, which is what makes it distinctive. The horn does indeed still work, but Kerr may be more inclined to use his DIY horn which plays the original “Batman” theme song. Someone who’s heard the horn is a fellow math teacher, John Chase, who has also ridden in Kerr’s car twice and is a fan.

“I got to ride in Mr. Kerr’s batmobile… it changed my life forever,” Chase said. “My daughters got to witness the bat song as well. It’s loud… It’s not just a horn though; it’s like a specially installed button. It’s extra loud [and] you can hear it coming down the street.”

There are still other references to the 1960s television series besides the self-installed horn. Scattered along the side of the car are cartoon action words from the cartoons and the show, which starred Adam West as Batman.

“I grew up watching [the show], and it’s funny because nowadays superheroes have to be so jacked, and back then you could be a superhero in baggy pajamas… I did like the show, and so the little stickers on [my car] say things like, ‘POW!’ and ‘BIF!’ because they used to do that on the show,” Kerr said.

Junior Sebastian Vargas Charme had Kerr for geometry in his freshman year and their relationship has since grown strong due to a shared love for the Batman world.

“The comfort Mr. Kerr’s classroom brings comes from our connection and just when I found out that [the] Batman car was his. It brought me joy, and I sparked up a conversation about it, and it made me happy… I can genuinely talk about my interests with him,” Vargas Charme said.

Aside from being almost entirely black with a few yellow streaks, the Batmobile has a large, spray-painted Batman symbol on its hood that gives onlookers the main idea. Adding the key symbol wasn’t an arduous process, costing just a little bit of money and effort.

“I just took a JPEG of a bat and blew it up to two feet by three feet, which cost like two dollars. Then I cut it out with an X-Acto knife and spray painted it [on the hood], and The Batmobile was born,” Kerr said.

The idea of altering a car in this way may seem offbeat to some, but Kerr doesn’t look at his paint job as tarnishing something valuable. He just wanted to add some excitement to an ordinary car.

“[The car’s] kinda fun. Things are things. People get too wrapped up about their things,” Kerr said.

Kerr’s Batmobile has the rare ability to send a message by simply just being in park with nobody inside of it. And unlike the supercars driven by multi-millionaires, the Batmobile can connect with people and leave a long-lasting memory just from being seen around town.

“When [Kerr] first came to WJ, I think everyone at first thought it was a student who was parking in the staff parking lot. And then we figured out it was just a cool teacher,” Chase said.

Kerr is still a Batman fan though, noting one of the powerful messages of the character is helping people in need. Whether it’s checking out a stopped car on the side of the road or just brightening someone’s day by pressing the “Batman” horn, Kerr’s Batmobile is a symbol, proving that it doesn’t take that much effort to bring positivity in the world, one way or another.

“The fact that [Batman’s] not supernaturally gifted, is kinda cool. Granted you have tons of money, anybody can be a superhero… But anybody can stop and help somebody,” Kerr said.

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Josh Hananel
Josh Hananel, Online A&E Editor
Junior Josh Hananel is the Online Arts and Entertainment editor in his third year with the Pitch. Running for the cross country and track teams, he also enjoys writing and movies.
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