The vehicles students enrolled in the Southview High School Auto Body Repair Refinishing and Restoration Program usually work on are old, out-of-date beaters. So when they recently got the chance to restore a ’68 Pontiac GTO, they were thrilled.
The GTO project was made possible by Ed Jones, president of Jones Motorsports in Akron, Ohio, who is a 1973 graduate of the two-year program at the Lorain, Ohio school.
“I did it to give back to the kids and allow them to work on something cool instead of something rusty,” said Jones, who also donated a rotisserie to the program.
Pro-Spray Automotive Systems (http://www.prosprayfinishes.com/), a U.S. Chemical & Plastics company, donated the basecoats, clearcoats, primers, fillers, abrasives and other materials necessary for the project.
“When Ed described the project, I thought what a great way to help the kids in the school,” said Bill Warner, technical trainer for Pro-Spray. “They would get to work on a fun project and use some of the newest paint technology available.”
According to head instructor Efrain Soto, the program has always attracted great interest, regularly filling up with about 50 students eager to learn the collision repair trade.
“I’ve been teaching here for 24 years now, and I’ve been very blessed to have students who have come through this program and gone on to become shop owners, technicians and painters,” said Soto.
Juniors attend the program in the morning, while seniors attend in the afternoon. Each of their sessions last three hours. Sophomores are also integrated into the program for 18-week periods at 1-1/2 hours per session. Students earn four credits per year of the program for a maximum of eight.
Soto estimates that 20 percent of the students will actually go on to pursue careers in collision repair, although he says that figure tends to be lower during tough economic times like now.
Gabriel Fernandez, 17, is likely to make auto body repair his life’s work.
“I’ve loved cars ever since I was 5 and went to see a race,” said Fernandez. “I love painting them and doing all the other things that are required to repair them. The best is at the end when you can step back and look at the car and see all that you’ve done.”
Adam Batista, 16, shares Fernandez’s love of cars and also says that’s his prime motivator for wanting to make collision repair a career.
“I just love cars and the power they have when you’re out driving and having fun,” said Batista. “I like painting them the best.”
Courtesy of BODYSHOP BUSINESS Magazine.