3 Brandon Hoke, teacher, double checking students' testing of coolant.JPG

Last weekend, Oct. 26 and 27, Yelm High School automotive and SkillsUSA students, along with their teacher Brandon Hoke, set up shop in the parking lot of NAPA Auto Parts and Walt’s Point S. in Yelm.

There, 17 students performed free safety checks on 38 vehicles as part of the annual Lights On for Safety event. Though the “Lights On” name might make it sound as though students merely made sure that vehicle lights work, the students did much more than that.

“The students checked all the fluids, tire pressure and tire tread depth, also that the lights and horn work,” Hoke said.

This is Hoke’s second year teaching auto shop at Yelm High School. Not only did his students run through a checklist, making notes on each car, they then added fluids, such as balancing coolant with water so engines don’t freeze. The students went the extra mile and figured out how to put snow cables on tires for one customer.

“The service check is to help owners have their cars ready for winter,” Hoke said.

Sophomore Dallas Short carefully went through the checklist, writing down results of checks and what a car needed done.

“That tire needs three pounds of air,” he said, directing a student with the air tank.

Short explained that the automotive class is a SkillsUSA and a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program during which students can prepare for careers in automotive technology.

CTE is kind of like FFA in that the students do practical hands-on projects as well as community service, plus they can compete with other schools.

Emma Proffit is a junior and has been a SkillsUSA student since her freshman year. She’s one of two girls in the class.

“My grandfather roped me into the first class,” she said of Ralph Shultz, who ran the Yelm High School automotive program until June 2019. “So I’ve stayed.”

During the weekend event, she took photos so the students could make a book to display at the SkillsUSA and CTE competitions.

Hayden Fogleman, a senior, said, “I’m doing the auto shop class and I’m also doing a CTE manufacturing and design class. I created a wooden box and now I’m doing a metal box.”

When he graduates at the end of the school year, he plans to join the Air Force.

“They have good opportunities and will pay for college and train me in aeronautics,” he said. “Then when I get out I’ll be able to get a civilian job with a company like Boeing.”

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