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More in Community
Cars, kids and classes
PRACTICE — Students in the first year class start out working on cadaver cars. Here a student is fixing some dents in a door with a thin body filler and sander.
OXFORD HILLS — One of the things the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School is known for is its variety when it comes to students in class.
Aside from the regular scholastic classes, OHCHS has Advanced Placement classes, unique language classes and the Oxford Hills Technology School.
OHTS attracts students of all grades and of all varieties. There’s a little something for everyone at OHTS; Fashion Design, Culinary Arts, Building Construction, even Auto Collision Repair Technology. In each of the technology classes, students get to learn hands-on procedures for real-life jobs. Students even get the chance to produce projects that are for real people out in the Oxford Hills community.
In Auto Collision, students get the chance to work on community members' automobiles. If someone has a dent, a scratched up bumper, a broken mirror, or just needs an update on their paint job, there’s a possibility that a student from the Auto Collision class can help.
“The Auto Collision ... program is designed to prepare students for a career in repairing, replacing, and straightening damaged components of vehicles ... Once a student successfully completes the safety tests on equipment use, he/she will spend the time divided between the classroom and the shop. A high percentage of their time is spent in the shop learning from hands-on experience,” states the Region 11 Technology website.
That “hands-on experience” comes in many forms in the Auto Collision class. Kayla Collette, a senior, has been working on designing and painting a car hood since October of 2012. Collette has been in the class since her sophomore year.
“I like cars and I like learning how to make them,” says Collette. The hood that Collette is currently working on was donated, and before Collette started painting, she had to use a material called “Body Filler” to fill in the scratches, dents and other marks.
“It’s a learning process,” says Collette, “and it came out better than I thought.”
Many students even bring in their own cars to the Auto Collision class. Brendan Cordwell, a junior this year, is a second-year student. Currently, Cordwell is fixing the bumper on his car. In order for a student to do this, they have to pay for the materials and they do the work themselves.
Other than working on cars, doors and hoods, students also learn how to work as a team and keep their workspace clean.
“Friday is cleanup day. We move everything, sweep, wash the floors down,” says Assistant Instructor Jeff Tucker, “and everyone helps.”
Tucker has been the Assistant Instructor since 2006, and the Auto Collision Instructor, Fred Steeves, has been the main instructor since 1997.
“The students start in the classroom,” says Steeves. “They start off working on ‘cadaver cars’ and when we feel the students are competent, we bring them out to the shop.”
The students spend about a third of the period in the classroom, learning theoretical stuff and then the rest in the shop.
“We spend [a fourth] of the year welding, the students have a welding test to get a credit at the Northern Maine Community College, we paint, we clean, and we make [the car] look good.”
At the high school, there’s a similar class called Automotive Technology, and while both Auto Collision and Auto Technology work on cars, they’re a little different.
“They’re ‘auto-go,’ and we’re ‘auto-show,’” says Steeves. “Auto Technology is drive-trained.”
Steeves also takes a lot of classes and courses to help keep students on top of what’s new. “Cars change a lot,” says Steeves, “there’s always something new.”