Watauga High School students Graham Roten and Daniel Taylor won first place in the state at this year’s Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition held April 18 in Charlotte. As the top team in NC, Roten and Taylor will now advance to the national Student Auto Skills finals at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan in June.
For Auto Skills competitions, teams are given a vehicle and a very general description of the problems it is having, similar to the description that might be given by a vehicle owner who has brought a car in for repairs. Teams have ninety minutes to find and correct all of the problems. Roten and Taylor were the only team in the competition to meet that objective and deliver a perfect car within the allotted time. Along with this “hands on” part of the event, Auto Skills competitions also include a written exam to test students’ understanding of automotive technology.
In addition to the honor of winning first place in the state, Roten and Taylor each received more than $39,000 in scholarship offers that can be used to continue their education in auto technology and related fields.
Larry Jones, automotive technology teacher at Watauga High School, said the two were excellent students and added that the support they received from Boone Ford was critical to their success. Boone Ford loaned Watauga High School’s automotive technology program a Ford Fiesta for the team to work on before the competition and Graham and Roten took full advantage of it in their preparation. “Two teams showed up that did not have a car to work with before the competition and we knew they’d be dead in the water,” remarked Jones. We are extremely fortunate to have a very supportive local dealer like Boone Ford and we are very grateful for their help.”
Boone Ford owner Alfred Glover responded by saying, “I am very pleased to be able to support these outstanding students and this great program at Watauga High School and I intend to keep on supporting them. We’re going to stay 110 percent behind this auto technology program in the future.”
The automotive technology curriculum at Watauga High School is one component of the school’s popular and successful career and technical education program. The high school’s other career-related offerings cover fields as varied as cosmetology, construction, welding, business and marketing, health occupations, family and consumer sciences, and computer science/technology. State figures show that high school students taking career and technical education courses have a higher graduation rate than students who do not.
The graduation rate for all students at Watauga High School is above the statewide rate and average SAT scores at the high school are the second best out of 115 school districts in NC.