A new and long-anticipated Auto Shop program is now offered at Estes Park High School.

“We have been searching for a skilled mechanic to teach Auto Shop for years,” says EPHS Principal Mary Barron. “We are so lucky to have found T.J. Appel so we can now offer this program to our students.”

T.J. Appel, the teacher for the new program at EPHS, is a senior master technician for Subaru. Currently the program is only for Juniors and Seniors and is limited to 10 students. But plans are to expand the program next year and into the future.

Until now, students were working with spare tools, and some borrowed from Appel’s own toolbox. This limited the types of repairs they could do – until now.

Hearing that the students needed a complete set of tools, the Rotary Club of Estes Park (Noon Rotary) presented the school with $4,800 to purchase a full, 1004-piece set of Teng Tools including a cabinet workstation.

“The new toolbox will allow students to learn and perform a wide range of repairs on vehicles. With these tools, we will be able to do almost anything and everything on a car,” says Appel.

“Multiple students will be able to work on cars at the same time,” he continued. “These tools have a lifetime warranty, so they will be replaced if any do break. And the workstation that comes with the tools will provide a safe space to store and organize the tools so everything can be found quickly and efficiently.”

This semester the students are learning the basics of electrical systems, studying how to perform vehicle inspections, replacing brake components, performing fluid services, and learning how engines and transmissions work.

In the future the school is planning to offer multiple auto classes that will go more in depth into vehicle systems, computers, and the technology side of things. Plans include building a half scale vehicle from scratch so the students can see everything that goes into a vehicle.

The class currently includes students who want to be automobile technicians, students who just want to know how to repair vehicles, and one student who wants to use the skills he learns in this class to become an aircraft technician.

The automotive industry will need more than 500,000 new technicians by 2026, and shops around the United States are feeling the technician shortage.

The funds provided by Noon Rotary came primarily from proceeds of Friendship Card sales. Additional funds for the tool purchase came from the Estes Park Rotary Club Foundation, using profits from last year’s Cowboy Brad concert.

You can help local youth, charitable organizations and more by buying your own 2024 Friendship Card – a $10 bargain that provides discounts in local stores. www.facebook.com/EPFriendshipCard.


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