Skip to content

Car show will help replace high school's outdated shop equipment

'The technology is quite behind in my class and I just don't get the proper funding to replace tools or upgrade equipment'

The transportation teacher at West Ferris Secondary School says his students are working with outdated equipment, so Craig Steward is determined to fix the problem.

He's organizing the First Annual West Ferris Car Show, hoping to raise $3,000 to buy new equipment for students to use in class.

"We're trying to raise funds for the shop classes, mainly my shop," Steward told BayToday. "The technology is quite behind in my class and I just don't get the proper funding to replace tools or upgrade equipment. Mostly everything we have here is basically just ratchet wrenches and sockets, but with today's modern vehicles, there's a lot of electronics that's involved and I have to bring my own tools in to be able to teach kids how to diagnose or clear codes, or how to recode vehicles using a diagnostic tool."

Other equipment needs to be upgraded...the tire balancer, for example. The existing one was donated by a resident of Redbridge but it's a much older piece of equipment.

"That's not what's being used out in the industry," explains Steward. "So when students go to a job placement or co-op placement, they basically have to be completely retrained on how to understand the newer equipment and how to set it up."

Most of his students are "hands-on" learners and he tries to teach real-life skills to the students who are actually looking to continue with this trade.

"I really try to teach them what shops actually want them to know. That's another reason why I'm holding this car show. When I go and talk to shop owners and see what they're looking for in students, the response that I get is they like the students to understand how to do oil changes, seasonal maintenance, and understand how to do brake services, brake replacements, understand quick jobs of replacing like tie rods, ball joints. It's important stuff."

So shop owners want new employees to know the basics, and they'll train for more complex jobs like doing timing belts and timing chains. They just want students to have general knowledge.

Most students will enter apprenticeship programs to get a job. or take an eight-week college program, or opt for one day a week for a year.

Steward is passionate about his students getting jobs. "I know there's a demand out there, but there's a lot of shops that are very hesitant about who they want to bring in because they just had such bad experiences with the youth. This is only my second year teaching, but I'm really trying to turn that around and get the youth to understand what's needed to be done out in the trade."

That's where the idea for the car show comes in. Everyone is invited to enter the June 1 event which runs from 9 to 3 p.m. at West Ferris Secondary parking lot, 60 Marshall Park Drive. The entry fee is $20 for exhibitors but is free to the public to attend.

Steward's students are putting sweat equity into their education and have come up with the criteria for judging, and will be the judges. Other students will volunteer to help with the BBQ, and the penny table raffles.

"We also have hot wheel races for young kids who come with their parents, cause you know sometimes the kids like to look at cars, but their attention span is a little short and so we try to put a little bit of fun in there for them just to help keep them occupied. My daughter is also doing face painting there to help with activities for young kids."

There will be a People's Choice Award where spectators will vote for their favourite vehicle. Steward expects local entries, but also from as distant as Mattawa, South River, Burk's Falls, Espanola and Sudbury.

A VP and the principal of the school will pick the "West Ferris Choice" award. There are 25 categories in all including oldest vehicle and furthest distance travelled.

For more info see [email protected]

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
Read more

Reader Feedback