Lorain County Joint Vocational School’s collision repair program has grown in popularity with the increase in female students taking the class and the upcoming inclusion of adult education.
“Our collision program is the only one of its kind in Lorain County,” said Betty Halliburton, director of communications at the JVS. “For six years, Lonnie Higey (instructor for the program) has been preparing students for the industry.
“This isn’t for a particular job; the credentials and skills they gain are for a career. Students gain certifications they will never lose and can use when they are ready. “
Higey said he takes his students through a four-semester program where they learn the basics.
“When you leave the program, you can work at a body shop,” he said. “The program focuses on the small repairs for dents and scratches. It also focuses on the painting the finishes.”
Higey said the painting process has multiple applications.
“With painting, I take them through the spraying process to make the car look like new,” he said. “Once you learn the technique, you can do it in multiple different industries.
“It’s the same as painting a football helmet at Riddell or painting an airplane. The technique and process is the same, so you could choose to use the skill in any industry you prefer.”
Higey said the program is a hands-on, fast-moving program that gets students ready for what employers are looking for.
“I get some who come in and don’t know a screwdriver from anything else,” he said. “Within two weeks, they are able to do work on the vehicle, and they keep advancing to the point where I don’t need to speak to them when they are in their senior year.
“They can do it on their own. When they are done, they will have certification in paint finishing and also non structural repairs.”
Higey said the program currently has 13 female students.
“There was a shift in 2013 when I was asked to paint a snow plow,” he said. “I asked some freshman students to help out, and I showed them how to paint it.
“Some of the girls in that group really enjoyed it, and they joined the program.”
Higey said the adult program, which will start in the fall, will include vehicle repair evaluation.
“High school students are able to determine an estimate for a repair, but the adult program will look at the quality of a repair,” he said. “You’ll be able to look at the work that was done and judge the quality of it.
“You will look at prior damage and go through the process to qualify you to judge repairs and make decisions. There are certain parts of the industry you need to be 21 (years of age), so the program will be for those folks.
“Anyone interested can set up visits for July, and I will take them through what we have to offer.”
Hannah Gunnoe, 16, a junior in the program, said collision repair simply drew her interest.
“I worked on a snow plow when I was a freshman, and it’s something I fell in love with doing,” Hannah said. “The dent, scratch and painting repair is fun. I enjoy making a car look like new.”
She said the art aspect is what she enjoys.
“Some may feel the job is for men, but it’s basically using art skills to paint and improve the look of the vehicle,” Hannah said. “It’s something that, arguably, women do better than men.
“I think you are seeing more and more women in the program, because they can see they have the talent and the passion for it.”
Julie Taylor, 17, a junior, said the program starts with being able to repair a defect on a bumper.
“He [Higey] starts us off with a bumper, that he puts a scratch on and has us repair it,” Julie said. “He then creates a larger scratch and we continue the process from there until we are at that point that we can work on a whole car.
“It’s something that takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. It’s not for everyone, but I like it.”
For more information on the collision program for high school students or adults, call 440-774-1051 or visit www.lcjvs.com
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