Students turn car interest into possible career
Published 3:01 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022
Editor’s note: Only first names are used for students at the request of the school.
By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor
An interest in cars can grow into a career through LeCroy Career Technical Center’s auto body repair program.
High school students in the program learn how to fix dents and paint issues as well as the safety and professional guidelines for working in an auto body shop.
“I grew up around cars and … my dad took this back when he was in high school,” Austin, a senior in the program, said. “I decided I was going to take it and open up my own shop when I get out of high school, as soon as I graduate.”
Austin has already started painting his own cars utilizing his skills honed in the program. He said he has enjoyed showing other students how to paint vehicles.
“That’s what I have enjoyed the most is teaching other kids how to do something I love to do,” Austin said.
Austin is one of 24 students in the program this year split into morning and afternoon classes.
Jackson, a junior in the program, was also inspired to apply for the program by his father, who has worked in the auto body industry for about 17 years. Students apply to LCTC programs in their sophomore year of high school as a part of the simulated workforce model.
During his first year in the program, Jackson has enjoyed learning how to fix a dent and paint a vehicle. He said he plans to work in a body shop after high school.
As a part of the first classes of the program, students tour the work area and the tools that are used in the shop. They also learn about the safety requirements that have to be followed.
After students have the safety information, they are ready to start the hands-on learning
“We start out with the basics of how to fix dents, how to pull dents,” Instructor James Duren said.
Students practice dent repair on extra vehicle pieces working in pairs before moving on to working on actual vehicles.
Duren said using the extra parts allows students to do the process start to finish on one piece and develop skills.
“Then, once I see who can do what, that’s when we come in with customer vehicles, and I will let them work on customer jobs, like they would in a shop,” Duren said.
These customers could be people connected to the school or from the community.
“It gives kids experience on learning to work on customers vehicles, what you have to do, how to take care of a customer’s vehicle,” Duren said.
Kayla, a senior in the program, said she has really enjoyed everything she has learned and the friendships she has made in the program.
She had wanted to join the program to get some hands-on learning experience and develop a hobby.
The program teaches students to be professional while on the job, to be focused and on task.
It also incorporates simulated workforce learning of keeping the shop clean and safe.
Internship, apprenticeship and job-shadowing opportunities are available for students who are in their second year in the program.
Students can complete S/P2 and I-CAR Certification in the program. Forklift driving training is also available to the students.