Lou Leto, San Clemente

San Clemente High School Auto Academy students celebrated another year of automotive education. They proudly wore their Auto Academy shirts, a privilege that has to be earned by keeping up with their grades and mastering many of the finer automobile repair arts that students learn from instructor Warren Cesar along with assistant instructor Janice Schroeder.

The dedication and commitment of Mr. Cesar and Ms. Schroeder to inspire their students to master mechanical and electronic systems is impressive, as academy students can achieve professional ASE certifications, making them more employable (and probably at a higher rate than entry-level minimum wage) than their high school peers who do not develop these skills.

Students of the San Clemente High School Auto Academy recently met with industry professionals during an Industry Night and Car Show. Photo: Courtesy of Lou Leto
Students of the San Clemente High School Auto Academy recently met with industry professionals during an Industry Night and Car Show. Photo: Courtesy of Lou Leto

These students’ ability to utilize modern diagnostic equipment puts them on the same knowledge level as some of the new car dealership shop personnel. This does not mean that they will 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 earning power might not force them into immediate deep student-loan debt.

The instructors invited many schools, aftermarket companies and auto dealerships to participate by showing their opportunities, services, vehicles or wares and talking with the students. Smitty Smith, technical sales coordinator for Edelbrock, one of the leading automotive aftermarket companies in the state, said it was nice to see a school with automotive classes.

The tricked-out daily transportation vehicles that bring students to school each day were side-by-side with a collectible Mercedes Benz gullwing, an exotic McLaren, with a modern-performance Porsche and a new Jaguar near some radical 1962 and 1963 Corvettes. The Model A club came out in force, driving in with various historical examples that are now 90 years old (the same age as our city of San Clemente).
This year’s annual meet the industry night was a lively and encouraging evening, with all participants leaving with some valuable information about automotive careers, equipment and new friendships.

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