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SCHS automotive students compete at SkillsUSA state meet

Jacob Tyler Welch (left) and Alex Stewart, who competed at the state level this year with SkillsUSA.

May 9, 2019 – Two Sequatchie County High School (SCHS) students competed at the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference the first week in April – Tyler Welch was in the MLR (Maintenance & Light Repair) category, and Alex Stewart competed in Service Technology.

Stewart placed ninth out of over 20 contestants, and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH).

To me, that is the premiere automotive school in the nation,” Stewart's teacher, Randy Harper said today. He already has one student attending that school on a scholarship. Seth Widick was awarded a $6,000 scholarship to UNOH after winning at a SkillsUSA conference.

But Stewart is planning to go to school closer to home – at Chattanooga State – after he graduates this month, Harper said.

He is the only student I've had that's gone to state four years in a row,” Harper noted.

Not only that, but Tyler and Stewart are among six of Harper's students to receive ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification this year.

This is a nationwide certification,” Harper explained. “It's a two-year certification. I'm required to have ASE certification to teach, but mine is for five years.”

The written tests take from 1-1 ½ hours each, and may be taken in any one of 10 categories.

Motivational posters on the bulletin board in Harper's classroom.

The ASE tests are not required, but a lot of Harper's students decide to take them in high school, while they are still free. They provide credentials, proving the students know a specific area of automotive maintenance or repair. It's something they can put on a job application or resume.

In addition to Alex Stewart and Tyler Welch, students passing one or more ASE exams and receiving certification are: Austin Martin, Jay Roberts, Noah Combs, and Cody Angel.

I'm proud of these students,” Harper said. “That's a tough test. I've known good mechanics that can't pass these tests.”

Randy Harper, eight-year veteran of automotive education at Sequatchie County High School, in the school shop with a student.