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Date published: 9/23/2012
At 20, Skylar Grymes is the youngest mechanic at Little Tire Co.'s Four-Mile Fork shop.
He graduated in 2010 from Stafford High School, where he took automotive tech classes for two years. Grymes said the classes gave him the experience to pursue further training and get a job.
The program, which has about 110 students this year, may not be offered after Stafford High is reconstructed. Building plans do not currently allocate room for the auto shop.
The $64 million rebuild of Stafford High will be on land next to the existing school. The new high school will open in September 2015; the 37-year-old building will be demolished.
The Stafford County School Board will talk about inclusion of the automotive program at its meeting Tuesday.
Grymes said he learned the basics at Stafford High, such as changing oil and using scanners.
At Little Tire, he does the full range of auto mechanic jobs. On Friday, he changed oil, rotated tires and replaced an alternator--all before lunchtime.
He said that the high school program gives kids a good understanding of basic mechanics, and that's needed for advanced training after high school.
"You have to start somewhere," he said. "The best place to start is high school."
Grymes said that a career as an auto mechanic was appealing to him because of the economy.
"Everyone needs cars," he said. "And you have to get them fixed."
Vocational and technical instructors agree with Grymes.
Bobby Jett, a drafting teacher at Stafford High, told the county School Board at the Sept. 11 meeting that students enrolled in the automotive program there would have nowhere else to learn the skills.
Programs at other county high schools, Brooke Point and North Stafford, are too crowded to take Stafford High students, he said. The other two high schools--Colonial Forge and Mountain View--don't offer the courses.
Germanna Community College recently opened an auto tech center in Stafford, but students have to pay for classes and would need transportation to get there.
Jett said he thinks dropping the automotive classes from the new Stafford High was an oversight, since the school has a design similar to Mountain View's.
He said demand has gone up for the program at Stafford High, and enrollment has increased over the last five years.