Walker High School opens paint and body shop for hands-on instruction

Walker High School opens paint and body shop for hands-on instruction
The shop will give students hands-on training in automotive painting and repairs, which will qualify them to earn certification in the industry. Pictured from left to right: Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane Walker School Board Member Bo Graham; Career Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola; Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre; and Walker High School CTE Teacher Chris Ledoux. (Source: Livingston Parish Schools)

WALKER, La. (WAFB) - Walker High School students interested in a career in automotive repair and maintenance can get hands-on experience and earn certification.

The new job opportunity is thanks to a new 1,200-square-foot paint and body shop that’s been constructed on the campus.

The new facility houses two bays, one for holding the painting booth and the other for bodywork lessons. Gerry Lane Enterprises donated the facility, while PPG Paints has given much of the paint needed for the work.

“This is a collaborative effort of educators and industry professionals working together to give our students greater opportunities in a career field that offers good-paying jobs in the local area,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre said 22 students in 10 to 12 grades are already enrolled in the career-based paint and body shop class.

Former special education teacher Chris Ledoux, who underwent training with Gerry Lane Enterprises, is leading the class.

Students who complete the class will be eligible to earn the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) certification, which is the collision repair industry’s leading standard for measuring skill, training and professional excellence.

Gerry Lane Enterprises President Eric Lane said he immediately agreed to participate in the project when he was approached by St. Pierre a couple of years ago. He said body and paintwork is an important part of his service department’s work. He noted that body shop workers can make up to $1,500 a week, and they have a “portable trade.”

“If you move out of state, you can get a job in a day if you have all the certifications. You can walk into any body shop and they’ll hire you on the spot,” Lane said.

St. Pierre said the school will provide students with district vehicles that need repairs and painting as their “class projects,” although he said “donated” projects will be considered as well.

Information provided by Livingston Parish Public Schools.

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