GREENVILLE – The 17th Annual Automotive Youth Education System (AYES) Auto Tech Recognition Banquet took place March 2, at the Elk’s Lodge.
The banquet is a “Tradition of Excellence” for the Greenville High School (GHS) Career-Technology Center and its automotive program. The theme “Partnership in Training: the Automotive Industry’s Work Force of Tomorrow” was exemplified by the guests seated in the room.
Some of the distinguished guests included members of the following: Greenville School District Administration; Greenville City Schools (GCS) Board of Education; the GHS Administrative Team; Support personnel for Automotive Programs; Academic Integration Instructors; college representatives; automobile industry representatives; GCS Transportation; corporate support and manufacturing support.
In addition, there were representatives from local automobile industry repair, sales, parts and service companies, including: S.V.G. Motors; Schultz Motors, LLC; Troutwine Auto Sales, Hittle Buick GMC; Dave Knapp Ford; Hamilton Auto Sales; Voss Honda; Grilliot Alignment Service; Stan Ray and Sons; The Service Company; O’Reilly Auto Parts; Carquest Auto Parts; Advance Auto; and other supportive agencies, including: Kiwanis, H & H Custom Cabinets, Elks Lodge, Reeser Sign and Design and the Rotary.
Speakers included Justin Morgan, with Sinclair Community College; Lloyd Koppes, of Toyota and V.P. of Government Affairs for The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Tom Richardson, who grew up in Ohio. Richardson said he spends about a week a month, in Washington, D.C., looking out for the auto industry, with the U.S. departments of Education and Labor.
“This is truly one of the best programs in the country,” he said of AYES. “You should be very proud of what you accomplished here. What you are learning here is going to be valuable your whole life. “You can learn the technical side of the business,” he added. “But if you show up at a place of business with purple hair, elephant pants and 10 pounds of metal, they are not going to hire you. You have to look the part. People are entrusting you with a $50,000 car, and you have to look like you know what you are doing. I encourage you to keep up with what you are doing.”
According to Auto-Tech Instructor Travis Nicholas, the purpose of the dinner is to give people a meal and to thank them for their support and for hiring the students in the program. The program is about a 2-1/2 year program, with the first year involving safety and basic tool instruction. When the students are juniors, they are ready to go in the program, Nicholas said.
“The automotive service and sales representatives in the community have shown great support for the AYES program,” Nicholas said.
At the end of the evening, AYES students Shelbi Miller, Austin Lacey and Nathan Remencus presented the 2017 Skills USA Project “Gaining Traction in the Automotive Industry.” Senior student Miller was also recognized as “Student of the Year” at the banquet. Miller attends school half a day and works the rest of the day “wrenching” at Schultz Motors, with Mentor Ron Fair.
“I thought it would be cool to work on cars in my future,” she said. “Our project was born last spring while we were discussing topics with the incoming sophomores. It was clear to us the number of job opportunities in the automotive industry. We all have an interest in vehicles, but not necessarily in repairing them. There is a crisis with the baby boomers retiring and there are not enough workers to fill the skilled jobs of today. When it comes to problem solving, the most important part is reaching out to the underclassmen and educating them.”
In the past 14 years, the AYES students have won 11 SkillsUSA State titles, eight SkillsUSA National titles and two bronze medals in the National Tech Prep Showcase category. According to Auto-Tech Instructor Jim Anderson, the criteria to compete is pretty stiff. Students have to stand and present in an 8-foot cubed area, with eight minutes to present. They work on the projects all year long.
“The project is current with today’s concerns,” Anderson said.
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