San Francisco school reintroduces auto shop class

By: Lyanne Melendez | ABC Ch. 7

We're going to take you down memory lane when high schools offered auto shop as part of the curriculum. One high school in San Francisco is revving up its program and encouraging other students to sign up. 

Few schools in the Bay Area encourage high school students to get down and dirty to repair cars. George Washington High in San Francisco is reintroducing car shop as part of its curriculum.

"I just like the feeling of messing with cars and you can tweak cars and all of that," said student Derek Kwan.
"I feel girls should know. If your car breaks down on the side of the road, you should know how to get out and fix that, you know," said student Adina Vasquez.

We saw some older pictures of the auto shop which closed in 2006 after the teacher retired.
The last time I saw a high school auto shop was in a movie and there was even a catchy song that went with it -- "Greased Lightning" in the hit movie "Grease."

"Oh yeah, favorite movie, I love that movie," said Vasquez.

So why now? Why reintroduce something that many considered long gone? Many educators are finally realizing that there should be other options for students other than college.

"It's not simply an issue of sending kids to college, it's really preparing our students to be ready for the world and it's college and career," said Mark Alvarado from the San Francisco Unified School District.

The trade unions and Toyota gave most of the money to restart the program at Washington High School. Today there is a competition among auto dealers to secure good mechanics. Many predict there will be a shortage of technicians in the near future.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation's demand for auto mechanics is expected to grow about 17 percent from 2010-2020 adding 124,800 jobs.

"If you are succeeding in that career, you are going to be very well compensated, job security is there because, like I said, the number of cars is not getting any smaller," said Igor Giderman from Toyota San Francisco.

Someone starting out as a maintenance technician earns almost $18 an hour or $36,000 a year. A more experienced master technician can earn six figures. That could be an attractive proposition for many of these students.

And students from other high schools in San Francisco can take that course after school at Washington High.