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5th graders gain automotive skills in summer CTE program at Crestview High School

This week, a group of incoming 5th graders in Okaloosa County are participating in the Summer CTE Automotive Program at Crestview High School.  Welch describes the summer program as an opportunity to […]

This week, a group of incoming 5th graders in Okaloosa County are participating in the Summer CTE Automotive Program at Crestview High School. 

  • Led by Damon Welch, the Automotive Instructor at Crestview High School, these students are diving into the automotive world and gaining valuable skills.

Welch describes the summer program as an opportunity to provide the students with a baseline knowledge of the automotive industry and spark their interest. He highlights the current struggle of the automotive industry in attracting young technicians. 

“Not a lot of people realize that you can go to a tech school and make a good living,” Welch explains. He shared success stories of former students who graduated from Crestview High School’s automotive program and are now earning impressive salaries. 

  • “One of them is a Ford technician making over $100,000 per year. Another one is a Dodge service writer. She’s making over $90,000 a year,” Welch said.

The Summer CTE Automotive Program is not only about providing knowledge but also giving back to the community and expanding the school’s programs. For Welch, the summer program is his favorite because he takes joy in seeing the students’ faces light up when they understand the concepts and principles behind automotive work.

Throughout the week, the students are engaged in various activities to develop their skills. They started by rebuilding small Honda engines, tearing it down to the bare block. When they are finished, they will have built them back to where they are fully operational.

  • The students will also learn how to do oil changes, tire changes, and even wire up a headlight assembly that mimics the operation inside a car.

Welch highlighted the long-term impact of the summer program. Even though the students are still several years away from high school, the exposure to the automotive program plants a seed in their minds. 

  • He explains, “They may not think about it in 7th grade, but in 8th grade, whenever they get that registration form for high school, they’re going to think back to how much fun they had in automotive, culinary, or robotics CTE programs.” 
  • He believes that such experiences leave a lasting impression on the students, influencing their future decisions.

As the week progresses, the incoming fifth graders are not only acquiring automotive skills but also gaining insight into potential career paths.

The Summer CTE Automotive Program, and support it receives from the Okaloosa County School District, serves as a bridge between curiosity and knowledge, opening doors for these young students and paving the way for their future success.


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