Students Gain Access to Hands-On Learning & Industry Certification
WALKER, La. (WVLA/WGMB) – Students at Walker High School who are interested in a career in automotive repair and maintenance can now get hands-on experience and earn certification thanks to a new 1,200-square-foot paint and body shop that’s been constructed on the campus.
The new facility houses two bays, one for holding the painting booth and the other for body work lessons. Gerry Lane Enterprises donated the facility, while PPG Paints has given much of the paint needed for the work.
The new facility is located on the east side of the campus, facing North Palmetto Street, allowing easy drive-in access.
“This is a collaborative effort of educators and industry professionals working together to give our students greater opportunities in a career field that offers good-paying jobs in the local area,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said.
“We’re changing education with what we’re offering our students,” he said. “We’re meeting the needs of both our college-track students and workforce-track students.
St. Pierre said 22 students in grades 10-12 are currently enrolled in the career-based paint and body shop class, which is led by Chris Ledoux, a former special education teacher, who has a life-long interest in automotive repair and refurbishment, and who underwent much training with Gerry Lane Enterprises and other professional development courses to lead the class.
Students who complete the class will be eligible to earn the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) certification, which is the collision repair industry’s leading standard for measuring skill, training and professional excellence.
Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane said he immediately agreed to participate in the project when he was approached by St. Pierre a couple of years ago. He said body and paint work is an important part of his service department’s work. He noted that body shop workers can make up to $1,500 a week, and they have a “portable trade.”
“If you move out of state, you can get a job in a day if you have all the certifications. You can walk into any body shop and they’ll hire you on the spot,” Lane said.
St. Pierre said the school will provide students with district vehicles that need repairs and painting as their “class projects,” although he said “donated” projects will be considered as well.