More in News
Maintaining a big investment
Aaron Libby, Dirigo senior, and Ben Plourde, MVHS senior, work on an antique fire truck. Ultimately, they will put in a motor and transmission and wire it. The Rumford Fire Department plans to use the truck for parades.
Mitchell Sabins, a senior at Telstar High School, finishes an oil change by checking the oil level.
Editor's Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles about the students in the various programs at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology.
MEXICO -- An investment in buying a car – be it a clunker or a new model – is one of those rights of passage as most high school students get ready to enter the adult world. However, as most seasoned car owners can attest, buying the car is just the tip of the iceberg for this investment. Maintenance keeps the car in running order and in the long run cuts down on expenses.
That’s where students in the Automotive Technology program at Region 9 School of Applied Technology have a leg up on their peers.
According to Instructor Dan Richard, his students “learn the basics of automotive technology, prepare for post-secondary school and learn key information for owning their own vehicle.”
Mountain Valley High School senior Ben Plourde is a second-year student and his motivation is simple. “I have always been fascinated with engines from the time I was a kid. I wanted to see if it was for me and I fell in love with it.”
For Mitchell Sabins, it’s fulfilling a dream. “I choose this program because I have always loved working on cars. It has been a dream to always be an auto tech.“ Sabins is a senior at Telstar High School and is in his third year in the program.
In terms of what students like about the program, two themes emerge – a day away from “regular” school and the teachers. Jerry Pelletier is the other instructor in the program.
Hunter Chase explained, “I like the fact you get to face real world problems here in the garage. I don’t feel like I’m in school at all.”
Chase is also a senior at Telstar.
“It’s like a day off from school,” summarized Dirigo senior Justin Dowland, “I’m doing something I enjoy and learning life skills!”
MVHS sophomore Brandon Daigle is in his first year of the program. He says, “I like the teachers here. They are awesome guys to have teaching. They take the time to help and answer questions.”
Travis Pelletier is Daigle’s classmate at MVHS. With a sincere smile he adds, “My favorite thing is hearing Dan or Jerry saying ‘let’s go to the shop.’”
Lest the reader think the program is all fun, each year the students earn a variety of certifications. Automotive Lift Safety Seminar is an essential program that each student must pass yearly.
“When you put a 2000-pound vehicle six feet in the air, you want to make sure it says there until you’re ready to put it down,” explains Instructor Jerry Pelletier.
Patch Rubber Company Tire Repair Seminar and fire extinguisher training are two more examples of yearly certificates.
Caleb Miele recommends the program for the capstone certification – a State of Maine inspection license. He explained, “Definitely do it (automotive technology program) but stay for two years so you can get your inspection license.”
Miele is a Dirigo sophomore.
In addition to the certification, students visit colleges to learn about post-secondary options.
“UTI (Universal Technical Institute) in Norwood, MA., sends a charter bus to pick us up,” describes Jerry Pelletier. “Our students tour the college and the students are blown away by what they offer. It’s a long 12-hour day but they love it.”
So, would automotive tech students recommend the program to their peers? The answer was a unanimous yes!
“If you love working on cars and motors then this program is a really good idea for you,” Brittany Gaudet stated emphatically. She is a MVHS junior and in her first year.
Telstar senior Jeremiah MacKaye added, “I would tell them it’s the best experience I have ever experienced in high school!”
If a student is interested in learning more about the program, contact Region 9 for a tour. If you have a car to donate to the program, please call Dan Richard at 364-3764, ext. 132.