North Central gets behind Auto Club

POWERS – When North Central High School senior, Andrew Kleiman, approached the district’s school board to present to the members a proposal to form an auto club in the school, he was unsure what their reaction would be. Even high school voc-ed teacher, Tim Wood, who was planning to serve as the club’s advisor, had no assurance of success when he went with Andrew to lend his support.

When they left the meeting, both were excited about the outcome.

“We presented the idea of the auto club and that we were going to start fund-raising to earn some money and they (the board) really liked the idea,” Andrew said. “I think we took up most of the agenda, but when we were done, they said, ‘That’s cool! Let’s do it!’ And it’s really taken off since then.”

Don Palmer, North Central superintendent, expressed his agreement with the school board’s decision.

“I feel it’s a very positive thing,” he said. “All the board members were supportive of the opportunity. Let’s face it…not all of our students can go to college but for those who don’t, there’s still a need for reliable vehicles to get places and someone has to be able to make sure that happens.”

While making their presentation, however, neither Kleiman nor Wood asked for a handout from the district for their program. They said the members of the club – with the board’s permission – would do their own fund-raising. Their only other request they had was for the board to approve the use of the welding and auto shop building.

“We were happy to grant that,” said Palmer. “I know their intention is to be self-sustained.”

Wood said the North Central car-tech program is the only one of its kind in their area.

“This is the last individual school in the Menominee Intermediate School District that has one,” he said. “I believe there’s one run by the Delta-Schoolcraft ISD, but when you consider it would take busing all these kids all the way from here to Escanaba for a class that lasts about an hour and a half and then back again, that doesn’t make any sense.”

Although Wood is truly passionate about his voc-ed teaching position, he credits the North Central School Board with their forward vision. He maintains that school districts throughout the country would be wise to reevaluate their curriculum to allow more opportunities for vocational classes to exist.

“I feel training like this is the next big rush into the jobs market,” he said. “I believe our whole society needs to evaluate this. There’s a lot of kids growing up on their grandparents’ farms and they’ve been around trucks and tractors practically their entire lives. They tend to pass these types of experiences down. Even if they don’t go into it as a profession, it will always be a really great hobby and give them the kind of knowledge that will always come in handy.”

Andrew nodded in agreement, stating, “My great-grandfather was a mechanic and my grandfather was a painter. I feel I’ve learned as much from them as I’d like to think others will learn from me.”

Student Tristen Harper’s experience with the auto club has been positive enough that he has already determined his future career.

“I’m going to UTI (Universal Tech Institute) in Chicago for two years to get an associate’s degree in auto mechanics,” he declared, “and after that, I’m going to set up my own shop.”