PORT EWEN - Gaining real-life work experience is part of the lesson plan for students of the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center’s Automotive Collision Technology program. Recently, however, their education was enhanced when they were able to use their developing skills to help a group of veterans in need - by repairing and refinishing a donated school bus. The bus will be used by the Joyce Schrick VFW Post 1386 to transport its members when they travel together for Post activities, such as providing military honors at veterans’ funerals, participating in parades, or visiting local schools and hospitals.
"We have to trek long distances sometimes to perform these duties," explained Post Commander Joseph Straub. "And having everyone traveling in separate cars with the equipment can be cumbersome."
Being able to give back to the vets was important to Kingston High School student Isaiah London: "Our class worked hard on it, and it was important to me because I have plans on joining the military after high school."
According to instructor Dave Rosenberg, there was more to the project than simply repainting the vehicle. "The students welded multiple holes in the fenders, and also welded and patched a large hole from the removed stop sign." In addition to the hands-on demonstration of their career and technical skills in rehabilitating the vehicle, the experience also integrated an English language arts component as students wrote letters of appreciation to the veterans in honor of Veterans Day and in recognition of the sacrifices and service to our country. The letters were displayed above the windows on the bus ceiling.
"We had to turn it around quickly, so the work was hard, but we are very thankful we were able to work on the bus," said Highland High School senior Samantha Lynch, who is the only female students in the program. Studying a non-traditional career for her gender is not something that holds Samantha back, and she loves the challenges of the skills she is learning.
Kingston High School senior Kyle McCooey said his experience with the Ulster BOCES Automotive Collision Technology program has been very positive, but this project was special. "The program is fun and hands on. Everyone is always willing to help each other out. You make new friends as well. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes cars and is a hands-on learner.
Students in this two-year, hands-on program learn about repairing, restoring, and rebuilding damaged auto bodies, from a fender-bender to a major mishap. Throughout their coursework, they experience the professional techniques needed to complete auto collision repair: sheet metal work and frame repair, painting and refinishing, exterior and interior trim and glass, and mechanical and electrical adjustments and repairs. Students also practice the art of customizing, which is an increasingly popular aspect of the trade, as well as learn how to estimate repair costs and manage a repair shop. Academic instruction in English is integrated and students can earn credits for English, technical math, and technical science. Students can also earn college credits through articulation agreements with Alfred State College (3 credits), SUNY Delhi (2 credits), and SUNY Rockland (13 credits).