By Jeanna Baxter White
Become a Master Media Group
Davie High seniors Jonah Longworth and Zachary Blalock have won the Top Tech Challenge at UTI/NASCAR Insitute in Mooresville. They earned $10,000 in scholarships, plus a Snap-on toolbox and tools for the auto show at Davie High.
“I am blessed to always have some very passionate students who are committed to improving their lives by taking Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes,” said Seth James, an automotive engineering teacher. “These two young men have put in so much effort and to say I am proud of them is an understatement. Whoever hires them enjoys them as employees, that’s what you’re looking for these days.”
The students competed against teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The competition was based on skills learned through Automotive Service Level III and included a written test and hands-on tasks, including identification of parts and tools, as well as basic diagnosis of vehicles such as electrical, powertrain, steering and suspension.
The duo finished fourth against seniors last year. “This time we knew what we were doing,” Blalock said.
Growing up with cars, taking car classes was a natural choice for Blalock.
“When I took the entry-level course, Mr. James saw something in me that I didn’t.” That support forced him to take all the car lessons the high school offers. He also works part-time at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. Blalock decides which school he wants to go to and which field of automotive technology he wants to study.
“I’ve always had a passion for cars. My dad always worked on cars and I hung out with him while he was doing it,” said Longworth. He, too, has attended all of Davie High’s car classes.
“It’s a good program and Mr. James is a great teacher.” Longworth enjoys his job at Modern Auto Extras, which specialize in vehicle upgrades such as wheels and tires and lift kits, and plans to stay in that field.
They both expressed their gratitude for James and the opportunities they’ve been given through the auto show. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Mr. James,” Blalock said.
James hopes the news of their success will shed light on the practical career and technical lessons in high school.
Career and technical education programs include career skills training that helps students prepare for college or work. CTE curriculum focuses students on academic, employability and technical skills used in a specific profession. An important part of the success of CTE programs is enabling students to find connections between their academic courses and their career goals, making high school a more relevant and engaging experience for students.
“I don’t know if all parents understand that these classes will prepare their students for a practical career that offers job security. If you look at who the essential workers were after the pandemic, they were pretty much the people in the areas we teach here.”
Davie High offers CTE courses in Agriculture; business, financial and marketing education; computer science/IT; family & consumer science; health science; technology, engineering & design; and trade & industry.
To further enhance students’ learning opportunities, Davie High also offers a SkillsUSA chapter. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college, and high school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including health professions.
The SkillsUSA website explains that the activities and competitions help students develop positive attitudes, build self-esteem and enable them to excel. They give students an edge in developing valuable professional skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, time management, teamwork and more. Because SkillsUSA works closely with business and industry, students gain the skills employers want.
Fifteen students, including Blalock and Longworth, competed in masonry, construction, automotive, health sciences and drawing during the Northwest Region SkillsUSA Rally at Wilkes Community College on Feb. 28. The next top five will compete at the state level on April 28.
• Automotive novice: Jonathan Gunter, first; Conner Lewis, second.
• Automotive Service Technology: Zach Blalock, fifth.
• Construction Core: Logan Miller, First: Rylan Koontz, Second.
• First Aid CPR: Ben Hoke, first.
• Masonry 1: Ashton Douglas, second; Carter Cuthrell, third.
• Medical terminology: Anna Lowery, third.
• Technical drafting: Slade Keaton, first; Palmer Williams, second; Josh Clark, fourth.
“We are doing great things and pushing these kids to get out of their comfort zone to become leaders. We really try to prepare them as best we can for the workforce, which is our ultimate goal in CTE,” said James.
There are numerous costs associated with entering competitions like this.
To raise money for SkillsUSA’s Davie High Chapter, DCHS is hosting the Spring Fling Auto Show on Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Davie County High School, 180 War Eagle Drive, Mocksville. This family-friendly event will feature classic cars, sports cars, race cars and more. The rainy date is May 14.