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LOU LETO, San Clemente Auto Academy Advisor (volunteer) 

Thank you for featuring the recent Auto Academy event as the Editor’s Pick, to support our San Clemente High School students.

Those that attended experienced the efforts of students by touring their classroom/active auto lab, and participating in their Meet the Industry event, as well as meeting local repair shops, nearby auto dealerships, and aftermarket companies that participated.

These companies spoke of students’ immediate employment opportunities, lucrative long-term careers, while highlighting services, products, or new vehicle offerings. Academy students can also apply for internships and job shadowing, gaining real-world experience at local businesses that are readily waiting for future employees.

The students proudly wore their Auto Academy shirts, a privilege that’s earned by keeping up their grades and mastering many of the modern vehicle repair arts learned during a sophisticated three-year program taught by Instructor Sean Selff.

The public was amazed to discover the level of sophistication that the students learn about electronic controls, working with technical diagnostic equipment, and developing skills to analyze and repair complex vehicle systems for fuel- and electric-powered vehicles. This is STEM being applied to achieve beneficial real-world results.

Do not interpret this as they might only turn to shop work as a career. Many students voiced plans of going on to college or advancing their skills at technical schools, knowing that their immediate earning power while advancing their studies might not force them into deep student loan debt. 

The Car Show portion of the evening was also about celebrating the more than 140 vehicles, many brought by the students, parked next to some new vehicles offered by new car dealerships along with classic cars driven in from all over the county. 

During a debriefing when back in class, students expressed how much they enjoyed the opportunity to have a dialog with the vehicle owners of all ages, and with the community.  

This year’s Meet the Industry Night, after a COVID-19 hiatus, was a spirited and encouraging evening, with all participants leaving the event with some valuable newfound information about automotive careers, equipment, shared automotive-oriented passion, along with new friendships developed. 

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