A basic Auto Mechanics course is returning to Delavan-Darien High School starting in the fall of 2017.
An auto mechanics or repair course has not been offered at DDHS since 2006, when the five auto-related courses available then were removed for budget-savings purposes.
Resurrecting the basic auto class will come at an initial cost of $3,400 in the first year. The Board of Education — which unanimously approved adding the course at its Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, meeting — is hopeful community members and businesses step in to help support the course long-term, much like area businesses and philanthropists did with the revitalization of the woods, metals and Fab Lab spaces at DDHS.
“Once they see us putting the effort out and we have quality program, they will benefit from it, then they’ll invest in it,” said Steve Logterman, board vice president.
DDHS technology education teacher Mike Fellin said area auto mechanics have told him repeatedly that there is a shortage of qualified candidates for available jobs. Having this course at DDHS could help fill those voids with students if they work first as an apprentice and then go from graduation into the job market.
“I think it’s awesome,” the course is returning, said Tony Lynn, owner of Advanced Auto Clinic in Delavan and a DDHS Class of 1990 grad. “I hated to see them go when they went. The school had some pretty good vocational programs… So it’s awesome to see it coming back.”
Lynn said despite searching for employees via multiple listings agencies and job services, he’s had positions open for up to two years. There are auto technician jobs available in the area, he said.
“If you’re a good, hard-working technician, there’s no reason you to make less than $60,000 a year,” Lynn said. “I think the reason there hasn’t been much interest in it is kids are not introduced to it.”
They can be introduced to it again at DDHS starting this fall, and that’s important for a number of reasons.
As a car-driven society, most people rely on finding a quality auto mechanic, and auto mechanics or service technicians play a crucial role in ensuring drivers remain on the road and on the go, according to US News and World Report.
Getting kids exposed to the basics will make them smarter consumers when it comes time for them to have their cars repaired later in life. That can help them save money because they can do the repairs themselves or know about and receive the various maintenance items cars need for longevity, Lynn said.
“Auto is important to get back into the high school curriculum, especially with many DDHS students entering the workforce upon graduating,” Karedes said. “It is our obligation to prepare our students for careers that intrigue them. Given that we have more than a dozen auto repair shops in and around the Delavan-Darien area, clearly there is a need for these skills to be taught. It will allow our graduates to give back and contribute to our community.”
Karedes is probably as excited about the course returning as the students. He surveyed current freshmen, sophomores and juniors and, out of 300 responses, a third of the students said they would definitely be interested in taking an auto class.
“We have about 800 students at DDHS, and we already have over 100 students desiring to take the course,” Karedes said. “One of our goals is to get our students actively and productively involved in the community. Conversely, we want the community actively invested in our school. This course will provide yet another avenue where we can bridge the connection between our Delavan-Darien School District and the Delavan-Darien community.”
Auto Mechanics is an introduction to the automotive service industry. It will give students exposure to auto design, power/transmission systems, repair, maintenance, and the tools and equipment used. They will understand the importance of safety procedures used when performing maintenance and repair tasks. Students will be involved in activities that provide for the development of team building and problem solving skills used to make them responsible, informed auto consumers. This entry-level course is designed to help students gain an appreciation for the automobile and recognize the many career paths available to a trained Auto Technician.
Auto Mechanics will be a 1/2 credit course for juniors and seniors. Power Systems and Energy is a prerequisite course.
Technology Education teachers Mike Fellin or Mike Rick will teach the Auto Mechanics course.