Every day for 90 minutes, Tupelo High School collision repair students get real-world experience working on cars in the career-technical center on the high school’s campus.
The students can take those skills not only to their future careers, but also to competitions across the state and country.
Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo High School student Isaiah Mahaffey works on sanding the hood of an Oldsmobile Cutlass during his auto body repair class.
Tupelo High School student Isaiah Mahaffey works on sanding the hood of an Oldsmobile Cutlass during his auto body repair class.
Students from THS recently competed at a statewide competition in Jackson against other schools in collision repair and career skill challenges.
The 10 THS students who competed placed in the top three in their categories.
Dillon Ivey, a junior, won first place in auto-refinishing. He had to prepare a panel of a car for painting and was judged on the quality of his work.
Caleb Simpkins, a senior, competed in collision repair tech doing body shop work on a fender with a dent in it. The quality of his repair work won him first place as well.
Simpkins and Ivey will go on to compete at the national competition in June in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I think it’ll be a good experience even if we don’t place,” Ivey said. “I think no matter what we’ll have a good time and learn something.”
Repair skills aren’t the only skills these students learn in class. They also learn business skills like how to create promotional materials and how to impress in a job interview.
Josh Blackmon, a junior, won third place in the state competition for job interview and won first in the regional competition.
“I found out that I was actually good at something I didn’t know I was good at,” Blackmon said.
The students all agreed that they would use these skills later in life no matter what field they decide to go into. The class teaches them life skills, Blackmon said, like good sportsmanship, teamwork, motivation and self-confidence.
For some students, the real-world experience available to them through the class will help them get a job.
Tevin Banks, a sophomore, wants to be a car painter. When he leaves school, he’ll already have the skills he needs to start working.
“If I were to go in a path as a collision repair technician, we learn all the basics we need to know,” Banks.
Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Caleb Simpkins works to repair the door jamb as part of his auto collision repair class at Tupelo High.
Caleb Simpkins works to repair the door jamb as part of his auto collision repair class at Tupelo High.
Derek Bradley, collision repair instructor at THS, said he does some teaching in the classroom, but the majority of his students’ learning happens in the shop with hands-on work.
The collision repair shop has all of the workings of a real body shop, something Bradley said is a huge advantage for his students both in terms of competitions and their futures.
“There’s so much they have to learn with the book knowledge, but they learn better with their hands. It makes them well-rounded,” Bradley said. “It is a big advantage and the support that we have is great, to have live work and real car – that’s an advantage.”
Students take the class starting their sophomore year, with the second year being more advanced than the first. Then, when they’re seniors they can come back to the collision repair lab during “Career Path Experience” class to continue to hone their skills. They’ll also help Bradley teach the first- and second-year students.
Thank you Emma Crawford and The Daily Journal for permission to reprint this article.