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Pilot program allows auto tech students to earn dual credit

Staff writer

Five Centre High School students are killing more than two birds with one stone.

In place of taking classes in math, science, and English, they are studying automotive technology at Butler Community College in El Dorado this year. When they complete the course, they will have earned 39 college credits.

The four seniors and one junior are spending six hours a day, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and two to four hours of homework a night for nine months to become certified as automotive technicians.

They are Corden Minor, Tanner Wiggans, Jace Hett, Tanner Peterson, and Troy Jones. They have 11 college-age classmates.

Tanner Wiggans said. “You have to pay attention. It’s worth it to spend those extra three hours.”

They are expected to be in class, on time, every day. That is why they get up at 5:30 a.m. to get to class on time.

The cost of the program for high school students is $4,500, including tuition, tech fees, tools, and book. After high school, the cost would be $6,682.

“Some of the work is hard, but a lot of it takes common sense,” Tanner Peterson said. “You have to be mechanically inclined.”

“You have to try to give an effort compared to a regular class,” Jace Hett said.

School counselor Hillary Barlow is credited with making arrangements with Butler. She is a former counselor at El Dorado High School and knew auto tech instructor Mark Jaye. She took the students for a visit to the campus last year, and Jaye said he was excited when he saw the kind of kids they were.

“You have to be smart,” he said.

He noted that many high schools have shut down their auto mechanics classes, so there was a need for this type of training for students interested in it.

They study mechanical, electrical, and fuel systems and learn how to diagnose performance issues and determine the proper repairs. They spend 1½ hours in the classroom and the rest of the day working on vehicles.

They give power point presentations, requiring them to know the material and giving them experience in speaking before a group.

Butler’s auto tech department recently updated its curriculum to meet industry standards, ensuring that students will obtain the expertise future employers require. Centre students will receive Automotive Service Excellence certificates if they maintain at least a C grade and fulfill the course.

“This is an excellent opportunity for them,” Jaye said. “The car dealers all know me, and all of my students can have jobs as soon as they graduate.

Tanner Peterson plans to do an internship next summer and go on to get a 2-year associates degree right away. Some of the others are planning to go into the work force.

Last modified Nov. 2, 2017

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